The barge that has been stranded on Vancouver’s Sunset Beach since running aground in November’s powerful storm will be broken down into pieces for removal, according to its owner.
The barge broke loose from its mooring in the midst of intense winds on Nov. 15, part of the same storm that devastated B.C. highways and flooded communities in the Fraser Valley and Southern Interior.
Sentry Marine Towing says it is still waiting for permits and approval from multiple entities, including the City of Vancouver, the Vancouver Park Board, WorkSafeBC and local first nations, but hopes to begin work within the next 30 days.
The company said a contractor crew will then begin cutting the barge into smaller pieces, which will be slowly loaded out by sea on a flat barge.
That work could take between 45 and 60 days.
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The decision to break the barge down into pieces was based on risk, the company said. The cost of refloating it or cutting it up were about equivalent, but a refloating attempt comes with the risk the barge could sink.
The company says it has taken extensive precautions to protect against environmental damage, including assessments with environmental consultants, testing the paint on the barge for toxicity, and implementing plans to contain any dust, debris or spillage during the work.
The area around the barge will be fenced off during the work, it said.
Global News has requested comment from the City of Vancouver.
Since it was stranded, the barge has become a popular destination for both locals and tourists, and a hotspot for selfies.
Last month, the Vancouver Park Board removed a cheeky, temporary sign designating the beach “Barge Chilling Beach,” a nod to the city’s other iconic parody “Dude Chilling Park” sign in Mount Pleasant’s Guelph Park.
The sign was repeatedly defaced with the beach’s name in the Squamish language, “Í7iy̓el̓shn,” and some Indigenous advocates said the speed at which the parody sign went up underscored how slow Vancouver has been to add Indigenous names to city places.