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Not so fast — derelict barge on its way back to Chemainus

A dry dock vessel that was towed to Slack Point recently will be towed back out by the end of the week.  - photo courtesy of Brent Browning
A dry dock vessel that was towed to Slack Point recently will be towed back out by the end of the week.
— image credit: photo courtesy of Brent Browning

The expected removal of a series of unsightly barges from the shores of Chemainus is on hold.

Instead, a barge removed recently for inspection and potential dismantling may have already been towed back to Chemainus again by the time you read this, ministry officials say.

The dry dock section, approximately 110 feet by 77 feet long, was towed to Slack Point in Ladysmith. Transport Canada had ordered its removal — along with the removal of four other similar-sized dry docks on Chemainus’ waterfront — when one of the dry docks sank in January.

“They obviously had concerns regarding public safety and hazard to marine navigation,” said Myles Mana, director of authorizations with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources.

“The others were leaking ... they had pumps aboard, and they were keeping them afloat by virtue of pumping them, so they contacted us.”

The original plan, Mana said, was to get the one dry dock that was taking on water the worst to a spot where it wouldn’t sink.

However, once the wood, steel and cement structure was sitting on Slack Point soil, it was determined that the cost to dismantle the four vessels would not be feasible.

“The province’s preference would have been to ... have them properly dismantled and disposed of, but given that that isn’t going to happen, we’re back to working with Transport Canada to try to determine the best place we could put them — somewhere where they could settle out on a shoal and remain there and not become a hazard to navigation while some other plan is developed to deal with them,” Mana explained.

Transport Canada could consider ocean disposal if the vessels are properly prepared, as they do not pose an environmental hazard, Mana said.

The five dry docks were originally towed to Chemainus harbour in order to serve as a breakwater for the Chemainus Quay and Marina project.

After that development failed due to financial troubles, the barges remained.

Mana said the province has already sunk several thousands of dollars into the effort to deal with the barges and will be able to recoup some of that through a security deposit on the foreshore tenure.

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