The McBarge: A Vancouver Icon with a Promising Future

Vancouver’s Expo 86-era floating McDonald’s restaurant vessel, known as the McBarge, has been a fixture of the city’s waterfront for decades. Owned by Vancouver developer Howard Meakin, the vessel has garnered attention recently due to its appearance on the federal government’s national inventory of wrecked, abandoned, or hazardous vessels. However, Meakin insists that the McBarge is far from derelict and remains in excellent condition.

Contrary to media reports, the McBarge was never abandoned and its hull is made of concrete, ensuring its longevity for well over 100 years. Meakin strongly believes in the vessel’s potential as a tourist attraction, representing Vancouver’s transformation from a “mill town to metropolis.” With proper care and a suitable location, he envisions a vibrant second life for the McBarge.

While the McBarge’s status generated some controversy, it is just one example of the many vessels that have appeared on the Canadian Coast Guard’s inventory. Since the enactment of the Wrecked, Abandoned, or Hazardous Vessels Act in 2019, the Coast Guard has been working diligently to address the issue of problem vessels in Canadian waters. The national inventory currently contains nearly 1,500 entries, with the majority located in British Columbia.

The Coast Guard acknowledges that not all vessels listed have been verified or confirmed by the Government of Canada. They are actively seeking public input to ensure the accuracy of the inventory. Efforts to refine the list and remove inaccuracies have already led to the removal of around 200 entries.

It is worth noting that the McBarge and another vessel, the Queen of Sidney, have been removed from the list. However, some owners, like Gerald Tapp, who renamed his boat “Bad Adventure,” have encountered legal disputes over their vessel’s classification. Tapp’s prolonged legal battle has left the future of his boat uncertain.

The Canadian Coast Guard takes the issue of hazardous vessels seriously, emphasizing that members of the public should not explore or venture onto these vessels due to safety hazards. They continue to address problem vessels, including the Brigadier General M.G. Zalinski, a U.S. warship that sank off the coast of Prince Rupert in 1946 and requires remediation.

As discussions continue about the future of the McBarge and other vessels on the list, it is evident that the Canadian Coast Guard is committed to safeguarding Canada’s marine environments and public safety. The removal and remediation of problem vessels are complex tasks that require careful consideration.