No movement in efforts to free big red barge from Vancouver beach

Six months after washing up at Sunset Beach during a storm, the 5000-tonne vessel remains unmoved

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The 5,000-tonne barge that has languished on a popular downtown Vancouver beach for more than six months remains firmly in place.

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On Nov. 15, 2021 the barge broke free from its mooring in English Bay during a wild storm and high tide and washed up on Sunset Beach. At one point, it was feared the barge would crash into the Burrard Bridge.

The following month, the barge’s owner — Sentry Marine Towing — got a Transport Canada permit to try to drag the barge back off the beach and into open water.

This effort, and subsequent attempts to move the barge by tug, failed.

On Feb. 9, the City of Vancouver issued a statement that Vancouver Pile Driving had been contracted by Sentry Marine Towing to cut the barge into pieces and haul those pieces away by boat. It was expected to start the following month and take four months to complete.

On April 21, Postmedia News contacted Sentry Marine Towing, the City of Vancouver, Vancouver park board and Vancouver Pile Driving to get an update on the barge.

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Sentry Marine Towing would not comment.

The beached barge at Sunset Beach in Vancouver.
The beached barge at Sunset Beach in Vancouver. Photo by Arlen Redekop /PNG

Vancouver park board referred the questions to the City of Vancouver, which referred questions to Vancouver Pile Driving — which has hired a public relations firm to handle questions.

At that time, the spokesperson for Vancouver Pile Driving stated there was no date set yet for work to start.

They said a “letter of advice” had been received from the Fisheries Department and that other permits and assessments were still in process.

On Monday, the spokesperson said there were no updates.

They referred Postmedia News to information contained in the Feb. 9 media release from the city, adding that the barge posed no safety risk to the public.

When the barge first beached, it attracted a lot of onlookers and was a novelty on social media. Parks board even posted a fun sign outside the vessel.

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However, the tone on social media is changing, with some commenters questioning why the process is taking so long.

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One local visual effects artist Nahuel Letizia even imagined how quickly a kraken could deal with the problem.

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Other media have reported that a Vancouver company, Clearwater Demolition, had been subcontracted to begin dismantling the barge.

However, neither that company or Vancouver Pile Driving were able to confirm this information on Monday.

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