Less than one month after it went up, Vancouver’s new ‘Barge Chilling Beach’ sign has been vandalized.
After several failed attempts to remove it, the barge achieved celebrity status in Vancouver, inspiring memes, swag and calls to make it a permanent feature of the landscape.
The Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation put the sign up on Dec. 15, 2021 as a way to “make the best of a bad situation,” it said at the time.
On Monday, municipal Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung expressed frustration with the vandalism on Twitter, saying she was “fed up.
“This sign was a small thing that provided some levity & smiles during a tough time. We need more kindness not the opposite,” she wrote.
On Instagram, New Westminster-based multimedia artist Ronnie Dean Harris, also known as Ostwelve, said the graffiti is the Squamish word “Í7iy̓el̓shn,” whose spelling is derived from Squamish Atlas.
The Stō:lo/St’át’imc/Nlaka’pamux actor and composer said the area was described by Squamish leader Andy Paull in 1932 as “Little English Bay, literally ‘another soft under foot’ place, a small sandy beach which was formerly running along from about Broughton and Nicola streets.”
“Now that this dumb barge got a sign…you CANNOT tell me it’s that hard to get some traditional place name signs around the cities,” he wrote.
In an emailed statement, the Vancouver Parks Board said the Barge Chilling Beach sign was “only intended to be a temporary installation to provide some fun and levity during these challenging times.”
“We saw an outpouring of positive feedback online and in person, and are glad that overall the community enjoyed it,” wrote Jeannine Guérette of marketing and communications.
Guérette said selecting permanent Indigenous names for places takes care and collaboration with the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations, and there are several such projects currently in the works.