CityCaucus Redux: Metro Vancouver infrastructure project costs balloon

Post by Daniel Fontaine in


Metro Vancouver pours another $220,000,000 tax dollars down the drain for Capilano-Seymour filtration project

As part of our regular CityCaucus Redux series, we bring you a story that was first published in February 2009. This week it was announced that the cost of Metro Vancouver services could increase by 44% over the next 5 years.


Friday afternoons are traditionally the day politicians dole out bad news. That's because it's the day of the week most likely to see your bad news "buried" in the middle of the Saturday paper. Perhaps that could explain the timing of yesterday's news release by Metro Vancouver regarding the financially disastrous water filtration plant project which is now at least $220 million over budget.

We reported here earlier the water filtration project was going to be massively overbudget, and behind schedule. Unlike so many other projects in the Vancouver area however, it appears the previously ballooning construction costs played less of a role in the failure of this project. Moreover, a lack of political oversight and poor decision-making seem to be at this heart of this one.

There are many that believe this water filtration plant is not even necessary, and a colossal waste of money given how pure Vancouver's water is already. I'm one of them. My view is not shared by the Chair of the Metro Vancouver Water Committee, Vision Vancouver Councillor Tim Stevenson. He remains a huge proponent of this project having even conducted personal tours of the facility before the tunnel project was halted. The tours were something akin to a proud papa showing off his newborn.

So how is it that a project that some critics say isn't needed goes over budget by $220 million dollars and barely registers any attention in the media? Well, Councillor Stevenson is no fool, and he understands the power of a Friday afternoon release about some little ol' water plant on the North Shore.

 Here is a copy of the news release issued by Metro Vancouver yesterday:

February 27, 2009


Additional funding of $220 million to complete the Seymour-Capilano Filtration Project was approved today by Metro Vancouver’s Board of Directors.

The majority of the funding – $200 million – is needed to complete work on twin tunnels that will take Capilano Reservoir water to a new water filtration plant in the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve and return treated water to the Capilano source.

The balance – $20 million – will pay for increases in construction and engineering costs for the remaining components of the project, as well as increases in the cost of energy recovery equipment at Capilano.

Initially budgeted in 2003 at $600 million, the total cost for the Seymour-Capilano Filtration Project, including the tunnels, is now anticipated to be $820 million.

Metro Vancouver has filed a lawsuit against former tunnels contractor Bilfinger Berger Canada to recover the additional costs of completing the tunnels.

Media contact:
Bill Morrell
Corporate Relations
Metro Vancouver
Office: 604-451-6107

So where is the accountability on this project? Why is no one calling for Chair Lois Jackson or Councillor Tim Stevenson to step down from their Metro Vancouver paid positions? Why is there no inquiry into how the politicians and staff handled the tendering of this original contract? Simply put, no one seems to care in this new era of shoveling money out the door for 'shovel-ready' projects.

Could voter apathy also be fueled by the fact our representatives on Metro Vancouver's Board are not directly elected by the residents of Metro Vancouver?  Board directors are appointed to Metro Vancouver by their local councils.

Did the Fast Ferries project in BC so collectively dull our senses that we no longer even blink an eye when a government project announces it's $220,000,000 tax dollars over budget?

Distributing this "bad news" release out on a Friday afternoon is yet another example of the type of arrogance and contempt for Metro Vancouver residents that we've come to expect from Chair Jackson and her colleague Tim Stevenson. We at believe there are 220 million reasons why we should keep on top of this story over the coming months. And we will.

- Post by Daniel. You can follow us on Twitter @CityCaucus. Or you can "like" us on Facebook at


It would seem to me tunnel contracts would have a clause to protect contractors from unforeseen natural problems,especially in something as unpredictable as tunnel work.It would change to cost plus until the problem area is fixed and then carry on as per the original contract.When you dump the contractor you will have to find another one it can only cost even more with move in costs,legal costs,and im sure you will end up with a cost plus contract anyway because the project is already covered with little round bruises from bidders touching it with a ten foot pole.But if im wrong please enlighten me.

And yet VV was quick to hold the NPA's feet to the fire when financial issues hit the Oly Village project under the guise of 'protecting the taxpayer'.

Pot, Kettle, Black

Don't forget, clean water is listed in the new 'Green Action Plan'.

Have to love Michael O'Leary and his take on 'global warming':

Do I believe there is global warming? No, I believe it's all a load of bullshit. But it's amazing the way the whole f**king eco-warriors and the media have changed. It used to be global warming, but now, when global temperatures haven't risen in the past 12 years, they say 'climate change'.

The scientific community has nearly always been wrong in history anyway. In the Middle Ages, they were going to excommunicate Galileo because the entire scientific community said the Earth was flat... I mean, it is absolutely bizarre that the people who can't tell us what the f**king weather is next Tuesday can predict with absolute precision what the f**king global temperatures will be in 100 years' time. It's horseshit.

Max thats classic,hes a man after my own heart he is.Whats funny about him is I saw him do a show about some silly giant kites with windmills on them it cracked me up knowing the guy will do anything for a

Max, Galileo pretty much was the scientific community in his day, the late Rennaissance. He was condemned by the Roman Inquistion, the deniers of their day, for asserting that the earth orbits the sun and forced to recant under threat of torture, which could be taken seriously given that they had not long before burnt Giordano Bruno at the the stake for his suggestion that there could be other worlds around other stars. He spent the rest of his life under house arrest.

As he observed, whatever anyone said, "E pur si muove", "and yet it moves". The same I suppose applies to the Earth and its climate.

The original tunneling Contractor submitted a bid of 100 million dollars for that scope of work. The next lowest bid was 186 million dollars. The original tunneling Contractor was paid 50 million dollars with half the job completed as they found the work conditions to be unsafe due to the rock formations. A new tunneling Contractor was hired at a cost of 200 million dollars. Instead of costing 186 million dollars it ended up costing 250 million dollars due to poor tendering. This is just one scope of the project.

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