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Opinion: The McBarge belongs on the bottom of the ocean

It's time to bail out on the barge
The McBarge as it currently sits rusting near Vancouver

For over a decade we've been lifted up then let down by a raft of announcements about the future of the floating McDonald's restaurant known as the McBarge, which fed and delighted Expo 86 visitors 35 years ago. I say no more! The thing should be sunk.

Officially named the Friendship 500, in 2009 fans of floating burger nostalgia raised their eyebrows when it was announced by owner Howard Meakin that the barge would be converted into a "waterfront development" on the Fraser River, to house multiple restaurants and become a beacon for float plane travelers and boaters.

Eight long years passed and in 2017 Meakin announced a different plan which threw restaurants overboard in favour of a plan to turn the rusting hulk into something called the Deep Ocean Discovery Centre. The concept was for it to be a “major BC attraction showcasing the history, technology, stories and experiences offered in the Pacific,” with an aim to discuss issues of preservation and environmentalism.

Fast forward to October 2021 and a recent interview where the owner has revealed that there are now new plans underway to make it part of "something bigger," and that those plans might include having other (perhaps less derelict?) Expo 86 artifacts involved. However, due to unfinished business dealings, he says those plans can't be discussed just yet.

If you're like me you've grown tired of seeing the decrepit McBarge get power washed every couple of years for a new announcement about a plan that will likely never come to pass.

Like me, maybe you hope that the secret plans that are apparently being made are with the DFO and the provincial government, and that the "something bigger" that it might become a part of is the large dive site located on the bottom of the ocean just off Porteau Cove Provincial Park.

Halfway between Vancouver and Squamish, the Porteau Cove dive site is partly made up of three sunken vessels that were placed there on purpose (the 28m Granthall, the 11m Centennial III, and an unnamed 15m sailboat), and an artifical reef network. They're home to over 100 species of marine life including octopuses, plumose anemones, and lingcod.

The site was established as B.C.'s first underwater park in 1981, a few years before Expo Ernie made his first appearance flipping burgers in False Creek. According to BC Parks the dive site not only "enhances the growth of marine life" but it also opens up "opportunities for recreational diving."

I plead to the owner of the McBarge to drag it out from the Fraser and up Howe Sound, sink it at Porteau Cove, and allow people to finally enjoy it for what it is - a wreck.