Since landing at Sunset Beach last year, the ‘English Bay Barge’ has become a popular attraction, topic of debate, and local celebrity all rolled into one. The barge garnered national media attention almost immediately, baffling viewers with its sudden appearance, and continuing to puzzle them as (multiple) attempts to disassemble the barge unfolded.
It’s been a year exactly since its first arrival, so we’re taking a walk down memory lane with all things barge. The good, the bad, and the just plain weird.
November 15th, 2021: The barge arrives
Based on the outpour of Twitter responses alone, November 15th, 2021 might just make it into the history books one day. ICYMI, this was the day that the barge officially arrived at one of Vancouver’s most well-known beach fronts: Sunset Beach. And by arrived, we mean collided with the seawall. The barge only got more famous after a tugboat was unsuccessful in removing it.
— EnglishBayBarge (@EnglishBayBarge) November 17, 2021
And it wasn’t long after that failure that the jokes & parodies started flying. From live coverage of the collision to a slew of ironic online reviews, Vancouverites certainly wasted no time in making the most of the occasion.
— EnglishBayBarge (@EnglishBayBarge) November 15, 2021
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— Adam Faber (@accordiyonder) February 10, 2022
There were even reviews popping up on Tripadvisor calling the barge a “surprising gift from the sea” and “the steel heart of Vancouver.” So clearly, the barge had become a sort of landmark for the city, eventually capturing the attention of international media outlets like the New York Times.
December 15th, 2021: “Barge Chilling Beach” sign unveiled
Flash forward a month later, and the Vancouver Park Board plays right into the humour of it all. Since the barge clearly wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon, a “Barge Chilling Beach” sign seemed fitting, at least to some. For others, it was a stark reminder of the City’s disregard for the local Indigenous names that came before.
Not long after the sign was “gifted,” the traditional Squamish name for the beach was painted over the sign twice – once in yellow, then in black. According to the Squamish Atlas, Í7iy̓el̓shn translates to “soft under foot.”
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January 21st, 2022: “Barge Chilling Sign” taken down
After much controversy over the name, the temporary sign was taken down. While it may have marked the end of the ‘barge-obsessed era,’ the event also sparked greater conversation around Indigenous rights and land titles.
June 29th, 2022: Early stages of deconstruction
After much deliberation and planning, the deconstruction of the barge was finally set in motion. Although official disassembly didn’t begin until early August, Vancouver Pile Driving (Vanpile) readied the surrounding area.
Step 1 commenced with the installation of safety barriers and fences. According to a weekly report by VanPile, temporary piles were then set up to secure the barge while experts hauled away walls and sections of the barge piece by piece. Overall, the process was estimated to take 12 to 15 weeks to complete.
November 7th, 2022: Week 14 of deconstruction
According to VanPile’s recent report, things were moving along as scheduled, and the project entered its “final weeks of deconstruction.” Once completed, VanPile will have a bit more work to do in the surrounding area to ensure public safety and environmental protection moving forward.
“Despite wind, rain and dark mornings, our crews are continuing to work hard on the dismantling of the barge,” says the report. “We’re making progress on the mid-body of the barge, skinning it and removing the upper works side panels and ultimately the bottom plate.”
November 15th, 2022: Final week of deconstruction
In a new “anniversary” update, VanPile announced that they’re now down to “the short stokes of the final section of the mid-body,” meaning that if things continue as planned, this will be the final week of disassembling the barge.
“Weather permitting, this week we’re removing those last pieces. After this is complete, we’ll remove the piles that were installed as safety measures, clean up the site and perform our post-project environmental assessments.”
And that’s a wrap on the barge, literally. So if you wanted to get one final goodbye in, now would be the time to do it! We hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane.