The McBarge, once a floating McDonald’s, preps for a new look under the sea

Click to play video: 'New plans for Expo 86 ‘McBarge’'
New plans for Expo 86 ‘McBarge’
The owners of the notorious Expo 86 Mcdonald’s McBarge have plans to develop it into a deep sea research centre. Ted Chernecki reports – Oct 13, 2017

The McBarge has struggled to find its purpose after it served as a McDonald’s restaurant on False Creek during Expo 86.

The old structure has remained empty since the fair, and after a time it fell into disrepair, covered in graffiti as it floated on the waters of the Fraser River.

WATCH: McBarge on the move

Today, it sits refurbished on the shores of the Fraser in Maple Ridge.

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And there’s hope for new life for the McBarge as the Deep Discovery Centre, a place where people can learn about ocean technology.

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Howard Meakin has owned the McBarge for 20 years, and he now envisions it as a facility that could highlight Canada’s advances in undersea and deepwater technology.

It could be a place “where people of all ages and all nationalities can come and see the Pacific Ocean, what’s happening in the ocean,” he told Global News.

And he has a diving industry pioneer on his side.

Phil Nuytten, the founder and president of North Vancouver-based Nuytco Research Ltd. and Can-Dive Services Ltd., companies that have sold submersible equipment internationally, thinks McBarge could help Canadians learn about underwater innovations that have happened within their own borders.

“Everybody in the global community worldwide… knows about Canada as a mecca for undersea technology,” he said.

“But nobody in Canada seems to know it. So I thought, what we really need to do is showcase those companies that have made such incredible contributions to deepwater technology.”

READ MORE: McBarge is on the move to its new home

The McBarge is preparing to welcome its first guests since Expo 86 at an event on Oct. 21, during an open house where people will have a chance to tour the facility and learn more about the Deep Discovery Centre.

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“We rely on the ocean and we’re going to increasingly rely on the ocean for food, for minerals, and for energy,” Meakin said.

The open house will take place at 23660 River Road in Maple Ridge, next to the old Albion ferry terminal.

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