Metro Vancouver moves closer to deciding on strategy for implementing replacement Lions Gate and Iona Island sewage treatment plants



Lions gate sewage treatment plant

Wrestling with the Financing Challenge

Metro Vancouver continues to wrestle with the challenge of how to finance the $1.4B cost for two sewage treatment plants. When the Finance Committee met on April 15, it considered the recommendations of the advisory Reference Panel and a report by the Chief Financial Officer (CFO).

This was the third monthly meeting in a row that the top item on the Finance Committee’s agenda was a request from the Metro Vancouver Board to provide a recommendation on how to move forward.  After another lengthy round of discussion, the Finance Committee asked Metro Vancouver staff to provide supplementary information that will then inform its May meeting.


A Framework for Action

“It was another healthy discussion. The Finance Committee is going through a learning process that should lead to an informed decision. They are moving in the right direction to achieve the Sustainable Region Vision,” observed Kim Stephens, Chair of the Reference Panel.

He and Co-Chair Christianne Wilhelmson presented a set of five Key Messages that were intended to help the Finance Committee find an appropriate path forward. “We believe these Key Messages can serve as Guiding Principles, and they can evolve into a framework for action,” stated Stephens.

“Our recommendations flowed from the Key Messages and were quite succinct,” continues Christianne Wilhelmson. “We recommended that Metro Vancouver resolve to complete Lions Gate by 2020; and further, that Metro Vancouver complete Iona Island at the earliest time after completion of Lions Gate.”

To download a copy of the advice provided by the Reference Panel, click on Financing Implications for Construction of Two Treatment Plants – Memorandum No. 2 on a Path Forward

Kim stephens & christianne wilhelmson, reference panel co-chairs


Sequencing of Construction

“The Reference Panel is quite clear in its advice: the region needs to start now to complete front-end tasks that will ultimately expedite completion of Iona Island,” emphasizes Wilhelmson.

The Reference Panel language was echoed in the staff report prepared by Jim Rusnak, Metro Vancouver CFO: “….the Iona Island upgrade should be completed within 20 years. In spite of this, Metro Vancouver has a strong desire to accelerate the completion of the Iona Island upgrade as soon as is reasonably possible in a 10 to 20 year timeframe.”

To download a copy, click on The Integrated Liquid Waste & Resource Management Plan Secondary Treatment Timelines


Regulatory Implications

Johnny Carline, Metro Vancouver Chief Administrative Officer, provided this sobering context: “Until the new Integrated Liquid Waste & Resource Management Plan is adopted, Metro Vancouver is legally bound by the existing plan to complete Iona Island by 2020, and that is without the security of senior government cost-sharing.”

Johnny carline“The new National Sewage Regulations require that Lions Gate be completed by 2020. This means that 2020 is the de facto deadline for both. The strategy as now proposed means the region can go as fast as possible with funding, or slowly without funding.”


A Path Forward

PPort coquitlam mayor greg moore (70x104)ort Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore summarized the ensuing committee discussion as follows:  “This approach gives Metro Vancouver the flexibility to go faster, but does not strap us in if the senior governments do not come to the table with financial support. In the absence of a financial guarantee, this approach puts the ball in our court with respect to timing.”


Links to previous stories on Water Bucket

Metro Vancouver Reference Panel presents Final Report on region's Liquid “Resource” Management Plan (July 2009)

Alignment with the “Canada-wide Strategy” establishes timeline for new treatment plants in Metro Vancouver (December 2009)

Metro Vancouver considers financing options to pay $1.4B cost for two replacement sewage treatment plants (January 2010)

Metro Vancouver wrestles with the challenge of how to finance the $1.4B cost for two sewage treatment plants (March 2010)


Posted April 2010