McBarge still in Burrard Inlet

UPDATE:

The story published in the April 2 edition of the Burnaby NOW, and online, was incorrect.

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The McBarge has not yet left Burrard Inlet.

The Friendship 500 is located in Burnaby waters, down from Penzance Drive in the north part of the city.

Two weeks ago, NOW reporter Janaya Fuller-Evans visited the trails of Confederation Park beside the Chevron Refinery, and could no longer see the McBarge from the vantage points along the shoreline. She erroneously concluded it left the area, but this was not the case.

The NOW apologizes for the error.

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Developer Howard Meakin has confirmed the McBarge is still in Burrard Inlet. He has the approvals from Mission city council to move forward with the Sturgeon's on the River project, and is arranging to have the McBarge moved to Mission in the near future, he said Friday, though he could not provide dates at this time.

The Friendship 500 - a floating McDonald's Restaurant used during Expo 86 and better known as the McBarge - has been seen from the shores of North Burnaby for the past two decades and even inspired a Facebook group, Save the McBarge (now the Sturgeon's on the Fraser group).

For the past three years, Meakin has been striving to come to an agreement with Mission city council on plans for a waterfront dining establishment, Sturgeon's on the Fraser. Meakin is incorporating the Friendship 500 in the design.

At the end of January, the recently elected Mission council, headed by Mayor Ted Adlem, voted unanimously to allow the development.

"I think there were enough people who had a Big Mac and a side of fries at Expo 86 that they'd want to come to Mission and have a fish-and-chips on the Fraser," Adlem told The Province in an interview in February. "Hopefully it will be the beginning of the redevelopment of our waterfront."

The floating restaurant will be part of Sturgeon's on the Fraser, a waterfront dining establishment with a floating deck and access for venture and ecotours, fishing guides and a floatplane terminal on the Fraser River.

"The goal is to make it the number 1 dining destination in the Fraser Valley," Meakin said in an interview with the NOW in 2010.

Meakin was one of the developers behind Gastown's revitalization in the '70s.

He estimated it would cost $5 million to revamp the McBarge but said it is structurally sound. The total cost for the project is estimated at $10 million.

"The hull is concrete, and it has a steel superstructure," he explained, saying when the barge was built, it had a life expectancy until 2085.

The response from the people of Mission has been positive, he added.

Meakin told The Province in February that he plans to have the restaurant open within a year to 18 months.

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