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About the McBarge

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Friendship 500, a floating McDonald’s restaurant, also known as the McBarge, anchored in Burrard Inlet near Vancouver, BC.

The Friendship 500, officially known as the McBarge, is a former McDonald’s restaurant built on a 187-foot-long (57 m) barge for Expo ’86 in Vancouver, British Columbia. It was the second floating McDonald’s location in the world (the first being in St. Louis, Missouri), and was intended to showcase future technology and architecture. It was moored on Expo grounds in Vancouver’s False Creek. Although the barge’s floating design allowed it to operate in a new location after the exhibition, the derelict McBarge was anchored empty in Burrard Inlet from 1991, amid industrial barges and an oil refinery,until it was moved to Maple Ridge, British Columbia, in December 2015. Apart from a brief appearance in 1986 by its original owner, McDonald’s, the McBarge has never been actively used for anything and has been passed from owner to owner for the past 34 years.

The floating restaurant was designed by Robert Allan Ltd. for Expo 1986, and it was one of five McDonald’s locations on the Expo grounds that cost a total of $12 million to build. McDonald’s intended to keep using it as a restaurant after Expo ’86, but the barge remained empty at the Expo grounds until 1991, when the new owner of the grounds forced McDonald’s to remove it. It is now anchored in Burrard Inlet, north of Burnaby, British Columbia.

In 2003, Marvel Entertainment and New Line Cinema rented the barge as the Nightstalkers’ lair for the 2004 film Blade: Trinity.

The current owner of the McBarge, Gastown developer Howard Meakin, submitted a proposal to Mission city council in June 2009 for a waterfront development on the Fraser River, with the former McBarge as the centrepiece. The “Sturgeon’s on the Fraser” development would include several restaurants and a marina complex, as well as paddlewheeler excursions and float plane service to Victoria and Nanaimo. As of August 2010, the proposal had local support but was still awaiting council approval. The development was ultimately rejected due to concerns about float plane noise and other environmental issues.

Other ideas that have been floated without the involvement of the owner include using the barge as a homeless shelter to alleviate overcrowding in Vancouver’s current temporary shelters.

Taz, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Meakin announced in December 2015 that the barge would be leaving Burrard Inlet after nearly 30 years. On December 22, it was relocated to Maple Ridge, British Columbia. The barge was to undergo a $4.5 million refit there before being relocated to an unspecified location.

The barge’s owners, along with diving pioneer Phil Nuytten, announced plans to convert it into the Deep Ocean Discovery Centre in 2017. An event to launch a crowdfunding campaign was scheduled for October 21, 2017, but it was cancelled due to weather concerns. A petition to Vancouver City Council seeking Historic Place Status for the barge received only 185 signatures. There has been no mention of a rescheduled event, and its Facebook and Twitter pages have not been updated since 2017.

It was reported in 2020 that there were plans to convert the barge into a seafood restaurant, though no location had been determined. Later in 2021, it was revealed that an unnamed location had been chosen but was awaiting government approval.

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About Author

Kathy is the owner of Kirk Scuba Gear, a passionate Scuba Diver, Ocean Advocate and Managing Editor of The Scuba News Canada

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