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B.C. officials want audit of $3.86B wastewater treatment plant

Explanation wanted for delays, overruns on North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant
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Auditor General Michael Pickup speaks in the press theatre at the legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Tuesday, March 19, 2024. A group of local politicians from B.C.’s Lower Mainland are asking the provincial auditor general to investigate how the cost of a wastewater treatment plant could balloon to $3.86 billion. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

A group of local politicians from B.C.’s Lower Mainland are asking the provincial auditor general to investigate how the cost of a wastewater treatment plant could balloon to $3.86 billion.

Seven local city councillors from five jurisdictions say in a statement they are urging Michael Pickup to look into the delays and cost overruns, saying he has the jurisdiction because the province put $200 million toward the project.

The original cost of the North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant in 2018 was $700 million and it was expected to open in 2020, but the Metro Vancouver regional district fired the contractor over construction delays in 2021.

Surrey Coun. Linda Annis, one of those asking for the audit, says the mismanagement of the megaproject is staggering, and Metro Vancouver taxpayers deserve to know how it went wrong and why they are stuck with the bill for the next 30 years.

Richmond Coun. Richard T. Lee says there hasn’t been any accountability for the nearly 450-per-cent cost increase from the original budget.

A statement from the auditor’s office says it did receive the request, and because there is provincial involvement, it would be something the office could look into, but its policy is not to discuss work under consideration for an audit.

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