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North End wastewater plant cost could hit $3 billion

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The most expensive project in the City of Winnipeg, may be hitting another costly milestone.

Upgrades to the North End Water Pollution Control Centre, once pegged at $795 million, could now cost $3 billion.

One of the last estimates had the work set around $2.2-2.3 billion, but more cost overruns had been anticipated.

The new estimate is contained in a report to the Water and Waste committee, where an $18 million over expenditure is needed for a portion of the project related to engineering services.

The upgrades to the wastewater plant are broken up into three phases.

“Further phases need to use the over expenditure process to add to the contract using the approved budget. The total estimated costs for the three projects is now approximately $3 billion,” states the report.

"I think we're all going to have to pay more to comply; to do some good environmental work here," said Coun. Brian Mayes. "Hell yeah, I'd be concerned about much this is going to be."

But a city spokesperson said the new number is not an official estimate, and that an updated figure is coming later in the year.

“The $3 billion referenced in Report No. 2 of the Agenda for the June 28th meeting of the Standing Policy Committee on Water, Waste and Environment is a conservative estimate, and not our official update of the estimate,”  said the spokesperson.

The spokesperson said the current number is $2.38 billion, from a May finance report.

However, Mayor Scott Gillingham believes the number is closer to the $3 billion mark.

"I'm believing we're in the range. The staff put that number in the report for a reason," said Gillingham.

Previous to this report, Gillingham has had talks with the other levels of government, pushing them for more financial support for the project.

"People have to remember that this isn't because we mismanaged the project. These are simply costs that we're projecting that are increasing before we even get shovels in the ground in some of these phases of the project."

Previous to this report, Gillingham has had talks with the other levels of government, pushing them for more financial support for the project.

The estimate comes as a new interim measure, to reduce the amount of phosphorus that leaves the plant by up to 38 per cent, is in place, according to the city.

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