Wastewater treatment plant: green light for vital North Shore mega project


1961 was the year Lions Gate Hospital opened at its current location… the Soviet Union’s Yuri Gagarin orbited the earth… and direct distance dialing began in Vancouver. It was also the year the Lions Gate Wastewater Treatment Plant went into operation.

The plant was state-of-the art when it opened 55 years ago. But today it’s regarded as somewhat of an archaic holdover because it provides only primary treatment – largely filtering out solids – at a time when secondary treatment is generally the minimum environmental standard for wastewater treatment.

The thirty billion liters of sewage a year that flows through its outfall pipe into Burrard Inlet at the doorstep to Stanley Park has long been a blemish on our region’s claim to being an environmental leader. Plus the clock has been ticking on new federal regulations requiring a minimum of secondary treatment be in place by 2020.

It’s no wonder that a $700 million replacement has been Metro Vancouver’s number one capital project priority for the past several years.

In last year`s federal budget, the federal government committed to provide $212 million towards this project. This past week the Province came to the table with $193 million. With Metro Vancouver providing the remainder, a cost-sharing agreement is now in place and the project is a go.

What $700 million buys?

So what are taxpayers getting for their $700 million?

➤ The current plant removes nearly 50 per cent of organic matter and almost 70 per cent of suspended solids. The new plant’s secondary treatment system with its biological processes and additional clarifiers are expected to increase that to 90 per cent for both categories

➤ What’s more, the new plant is designed to accommodate new wastewater treatment technologies if future regulatory changes require higher effluent quality standards. And its capacity can be expanded to accommodate future population growth beyond 250,000 on the North Shore.

➤ The new facility will be built on a three-hectare industrial site about two kilometers east of the current plant at Pemberton Avenue and West First Street, across from the Pemberton Station Pub.

Key features

➤ Odour control will be a priority in the design and operation of the plant. All air associated with the plant is put through scrubbing systems before it is discharged into the atmosphere. This technology has been proven in plants situated in urban neighbourhoods such as Kelowna, Penticton and Vernon.

➤ The facility will be integrated into the community with a design that includes spaces on the roof for community activities and visually appealing landscaping and architecture.

➤ Sustainability features include water conservation and water reuse within the plant and energy efficiency through energy recovery and electricity conservation.

➤ The plant will generate energy from wastewater by using biogas and extracting sewer heat to off-set the need for external sources of hydro and natural gas.

➤ When it’s complete in 2020, the facility will be a critical community asset for the next generation of residents and businesses on the North Shore.

In my capacity as both Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and as North Vancouver’s Member of Parliament, I am very pleased to see this project come to fruition after all of these years.

Investing in infrastructure

As we celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary, the Lions Gate Wastewater Treatment Project reminds us of the important role infrastructure has played in our national history. From the railroad to broadband access, investments in infrastructure have connected Canadians across our vast country, fostered growth, enhanced competitiveness, facilitated protection of the environment and contributed to a quality of life that is admired around the world.

The Lions Gate Project is an example of how – working in partnership with provinces, territories and municipalities – this federal government will ensure that our $180 billion infrastructure program over 12 years for green and social infrastructure, public transit and transportation will provide significant and sustained benefits to communities throughout Canada for the next 150 years.