North Vancouver, BC –
The original contractor for the North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant project, which is behind schedule and under budget, is suing Metro Vancouver for wrongful termination of the contract and millions of dollars in payments the county allegedly wrongly withheld.
The nearly 100-page lawsuit that Acciona Wastewater Solutions LP filed Thursday in BC Superior Court alleges that Metro Vancouver — formally the Greater Vancouver Sewerage and Drainage District — “repeated itself and wrongly” during the design phase of the project ” behaved in a manner undermining the attainment of commercial purposes.”
It also alleges that the regional district was responsible for the vast majority of the project’s schedule delays, and demanded that the contractor meet a deadline it knew was “physically impossible to achieve.”
The lawsuit seeks more than $250 million in previously retained damages and indemnifications from Metro Vancouver.
The allegations in the lawsuit have not been proven in court, and Metro Vancouver has not yet filed a response to the claims.
The regional government agency has previously said that Acciona “abandoned” the project, giving it no choice but to terminate the contract.
Earlier this month, Metro Vancouver’s board of directors approved the selection of a new general contractor for the project.
The North Shore treatment plant was originally scheduled for completion in December 2020, but Metro Vancouver agreed to revise the project contract in 2019 to give Acciona an additional two and a half years to complete the works.
Challenges that necessitated the expansion included difficult ground conditions, space requirements and geotechnical complications, according to Metro Vancouver.
The cost of the project has also increased from $700 million — about $400 million of which is funded by federal and provincial governments — to over $1 billion.
When the contract was canceled, Metro Vancouver leadership was concerned that the revised 2023 completion date was also in doubt.
Acciona’s lawsuit confirms this, saying that the company informed Metro Vancouver that additional time was needed to complete the project and alleges that the regional unit insisted on the “physically impossible” 2023 completion date anyway.
In response to the lawsuit, Commissioner and CAO Jerry Dobrovolny said the region was “confident that its decision to terminate was justified” and that Metro Vancouver will defend itself against the lawsuits.
“Metro Vancouver is working with new contractor, PCL Constructors Westcoast Inc., and new designer, AECOM, to develop a new plan to complete the project, including a revised project budget and schedule,” he said in a written statement CTV News.
“We are working tirelessly to implement this project as quickly as possible while considering the best interests of the region.”
The full text of Acciona’s complaint is embedded below.