How a community's ideas helped shape a new wastewater treatment plant

By District Staff on Friday, Mar 17, 2017

Early site preparation work on Metro Vancouver's new North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant at Pemberton Ave and West 1st Street will soon be underway. When completed, the new plant will replace the existing Lions Gate Wastewater Treatment Plant, which no longer meets federal or provincial requirements.

Built in 1961 on Squamish Nation Land under the Lions Gate Bridge, the existing plant’s capacity has been expanded several times over the years. It now serves about 180,000 residents across the North Shore, processing over 32 billion litres of wastewater every year, from toilets, sinks, bathtubs and showers, businesses, and industry. 

However, new waste management regulations in Canada require all primary treatment plants in urban areas — including the Lions Gate plant — upgrade to secondary treatment by 2020 (secondary treatment uses biological processes to remove dissolved and suspended organic compounds, resulting in much cleaner effluent and reduced environmental impact).

Working with the community, for the community

What you may not know is that Metro Vancouver has been working with neighbouring residents and businesses for years on the plant replacement project.

A citizen advisory committee was integral to the decision-making, providing input on odour control, the visual aesthetics of the building, potential truck traffic, noise, the resiliency to sea-level rise, changing regulations, and the costs to taxpayers.

As a result of the hours invested by members of the community, this plant will be designed and operated with the community in mind, and not simply as a large industrial facility being parachuted into the District.

Consultation leading to innovative outcomes

Some of the more innovative outcomes of the community’s involvement include a green roof, the inclusion of community meeting space within the building, and a state of the art odour-control system.

There will also be an education program for schools and the general public, to help foster a greater understanding of wastewater treatment and how our individual behaviour in conserving water, and being thoughtful about what we consider waste, impacts our region’s wastewater treatment system.

A good news story for everyone

It's been a proverbial long and winding road since the early planning and design stages of this project, but now that all four levels of government have come together to make the funding of this $700 million plant a reality, we're on the way to a more environmentally sound future, with cleaner waters in English Bay. 

By 2021, the new plant will be operational, and the old plant, which discharges effluent into Burrard Inlet, will be decommissioned, and the land returned to the Squamish Nation.

It's a good news story all around, and is also a testament to the power of individual residents and communities to get involved, share their thoughts and ideas, and have a real, lasting impact on the direction of work being done in the District.

Learn more and get involved

Learn more about the new plant on Metro's website

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