Goodbye Barge – That’s a wrap!

December 12, 2022

This is our last update on the English Bay Barge. Deconstruction is now complete and the last pieces of SMT-5000, the barge, have been removed. The barge now sits offsite in many pieces ready to be sorted for disposal and recycling.

Despite some of the unique challenges of this project, our crew and partners worked diligently over the last 15 weeks to ensure the best result possible restoring Sunset Beach and its surroundings to their original condition. Above all, the success of this project was a combined effort between all the subcontractors, suppliers, partners and stakeholders who’ve worked together over the past year to plan and successfully execute this project. 

Throughout the planning, deconstruction, and removal process, we committed to proactive measures to ensure no negative environmental impacts and minimal impact on park activities. Thank you to the West End residents and local community for their patience and understanding throughout this project. Thank you to those who showed interest in this project and checked in for these weekly updates.

We are very happy to now turn the beach back to the City of Vancouver, Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation and residents of Vancouver. Although many are happy to see the barge gone, no one will forget it. We hope the public will continue to enjoy English Bay as they’ve always known it, for many years to come. 


November 22, 2022

As we finish up the final stages of the barge deconstruction, Hatfield remains highly committed to the project. We’re working together to ensure that the beaches returned to its original condition for both human visitors and marine wildlife. We chatted with Francine Beaujot, Marine Biologist from Hatfield to get an update on next steps. Here’s what she shared:

We’re nearing the final stages of barge deconstruction! Recently, the final flooded underwater chambers of the barge were removed. Before that happened, Hatfield inspected the chambers to make sure that there were no marine invertebrates or fish trapped inside and to prevent the stranding of marine life. Earlier in the project, drains were cut on the seaward edge of the of the barge chambers to make sure that the tidal water could freely drain out of them.

A few days ago, the temporary steel piles that were supporting the barge in place were removed. During that time, Hatfield had environmental monitors on site monitoring the underwater sound levels. They used a hydrophone, a microphone that can be placed underwater. The environmental monitors were able to review the sound levels in real time and work with the team to make sure that the levels remained within the regulated thresholds. Similarly to the underwater chambers, when the steel piles were removed they were inspected for marine life before they were recycled.

Throughout the project, VanPile and Hatfield had been surveying the beach to collect any remnant steel debris that might have fallen. Now that the barge is completely out of the water, there’s a combination of three different methods being used to ensure no traces are left behind. We’re using a metal detector, a series of magnets and we’ll be continuing with visual surveys.

Since we expect that there might be some natural sand movement in the next coming weeks now that the barge is out of place. We’ll continue with the visual surveys. During this time, we’ll keep the fencing around the project site in place. Once all equipment has been demobilized and any remnants of debris have been removed, Hatfield will do a post works habitat assessment. This is to to compare the findings to our pre works habitat assessment in order to check that the environmental conditions are similar. As this project nears completion, we’re all looking forward to turning this iconic beach habitat back over to the City of Vancouver and its residents.

Week 15 – Happy Anniversary to the English Bay Barge!

November 14, 2022

One year ago this week, on Monday November 15, 2021, during an atmospheric river, a barge weighing 3.5 million pounds drifted loose from its anchor and landed on the beach in English Bay. One year later we are marking this milestone by nearing the completion of the removal of the barge from its landing spot on the beach.

Deconstruction began early August 2022 and now we are in week 15. VanPile has been involved in this project since long before deconstruction began; we’ve been working on this project since the early days. Throughout the planning process, we encountered several challenges due to the unique nature of this project. A lot of planning and strategy went into the strategy, permitting and the environmental aspects of this project behind the scenes before we started anything on site. It’s been really rewarding to see the barge slowly get smaller as we deconstruct and finally get down to these final stages with just the one section the mid body remaining.

We’re now down to the short strokes of the final section of the mid body and the remaining bottom plate sections. Weather permitting, this week we’re removing those last pieces. After this is complete, we’ll remove the piles that were installed as safety measures, clean up the site and perform our post project environmental assessments. Over the next week or two, passers-by can expect to see the equipment beginning to leave the site and make its way to the next job.

We’re looking forward to having the barge fully removed and turning the beach back over to the City of Vancouver and Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation.

WEEK 14 – watching the tides

November 7, 2022

Despite wind, rain and dark mornings, our crews are continuing to work hard on the dismantling of the barge. We’re making progress on the mid body of the barge, skinning it and removing the upper works side panels and ultimately the bottom plate. There’s a significant amount of internal bracing we’re working through and cutting. Our strategy is to remove everything in as large of pieces as we reasonably can to expedite the work. As we approach completion of the deconstruction, we are working as strategically and efficiently as possible. 

As the weather transitions to a more traditional fall season, we’ve seen a change in the tides which affects our approach. We are doing our best to maximize our work when the tide is low and ultimately doing all our picks when the tide is high. We’ve also been moving equipment in and out of the project site over the last few weeks. Timing for this is crucial and must be planned around the tides. We need to get the bigger pieces of equipment moving when the tide is just right. 

In spite of some challenges with weather, we remain very close to schedule and look forward to the final weeks of deconstruction. When the barge is fully deconstructed, we have remaining work to do in the areas surrounding the site to complete the project. As the barge continues to shrink, the scope, safety and environmental considerations of this project remain top priorities. 

WEEK 13 – hello rain!

October 31, 2022

Finally, the rain has arrived at week 13 of the English Bay barge removal. It’s starting to feel like fall as crews continue to work on the demolition of the mid body of the barge. We’re working sequentially removing the top and working our way down to the soft shell. At this phase of deconstruction, we skin the outside of the barge, removing the sidewalls, the top deck and then ultimately removing the internal structure piece by piece. Our crew is using torches to cut each individual piece free and then lifting out larger sections when possible.

Over the next few final weeks of deconstruction, work on site will be a repetitive process. Essentially, we’re removing and dismantling the barge in the opposite order it was built. We’ll ultimately be left with the bottom plate which requires the low tides to cut free and lifted out.

The change in weather; the rain, and shorter days are factoring into our deconstruction process as we accommodate the changing seasons. We are experiencing low tides in the afternoons and evenings while also maximizing daylight hours to remove the biggest pieces as possible. We’re continuing to make progress and are on schedule but are conscious that wind may be the cause of some weather delays in the weeks to come. Our crews will do what we can to reposition our equipment and stay out of the wind as required. As always, safety is our top priority, so we’ll make weather based decisions on an as-needed basis. 

WEEK 12 – Update from Superintendent Neil Kirk

October 24, 2022

Neil Kirk, Superintendent with VanPile has been enjoying his time on the barge project. As we move through week 12 of barge deconstruction, Neil and his team are working on the final removal of void number two and the remaining top works on void number three. Work is moving consecutively from the forward end coming aft, through each of the five voids. The process to deconstruct each is the same so progress is moving along well.

For Neil, the most interesting aspect of this job is its unique location. Though, despite the location, the approach when coordinating with the crew remains the same. Standard procedures and practices involving daily safety talks and project execution remain consistent. An additional consideration is that the barge is in an environmentally sensitive area which plays a large role on this job as well.

Barge deconstruction has been progressing nicely and the project remains on schedule. The bow and stern ends are fully removed and most of the first mid body section has been deconstructed. After months on the barge, the team has worked out the proficiencies and are able to sink their teeth into the repeated components. As the project moves along, the process is getting more efficient. The tides continue to cooperate, and we expect the remainder of the deconstruction to go smoothly into week 13 and beyond. 

Shrinking down in Week 11

October 17, 2022

The barge is noticeably shrinking in size as we move into week 11 of deconstruction. This week we’re continuing on the forward midbody of the barge, removing the sidewalls and the centerline walls as we work from the bow to the stern of the vessel.

With both the forward and the rear sections of the barge completely removed, the barge is looking different to its iconic former self. We continue work this week on the removal of the forward mid body sections which continues to decrease the barge in size. We’re currently working our way to the aft end of the barge sequentially piece by piece removing the deck walls and internal bulkheads as we progress backwards.

The tides continue to be a factor for our crews as we plan our operations within the low tide windows that allow us to cut down as far as we possibly can. We’re sequencing our work so that we can get in and maximize the low tides where possible and then also optimize the high tides where possible.

Crews are still enjoying the warm fall weather but are noticing the chill in the mornings. It’s feeling like fall on the barge as we slowly approach the one year anniversary of the barge landing here in English Bay.  

Week 10 – Top Deck Prep

October 11, 2022

Even though we’re now into the middle of October, many days still feel like summer as we continue deconstruction. The crews are grateful for the ongoing warm and sunny days and are making the most of it while it lasts. The forecast remains optimistic but typically October brings high winds, so we are preparing to work with changing weather whenever it arrives.

Over the past few weeks, the focus has been on removing the entire stern section of the barge, located at the back end of the ship, opposite from the bow. Currently, we’re prepping the top deck for removal.  Our crews have been maximizing the low tides this week to pre-cut areas of the vessel that will be underwater when the time comes to remove them. Working with the tides is helpful for our team and prioritizes safety and efficiency.

We’re looking ahead to continuing deck removal. This involves moving the stairs to maintain safe access along with removing side walls and bulkheads. 

Typical work hours on this project are 7:30am-5:30pm Monday-Friday. As it was this past week, on occasion we are required to adjust work hours for weather, tides or equipment requirements. Our crews are only working onsite outside of the standard hours if it is necessary. We are strategic in our planning to minimize any noise and disturbance to residents and businesses in the area.

Safety is a priority in the English Bay Barge deconstruction and all projects VanPile works on

October 03, 2022

Safety is a priority in the English Bay Barge deconstruction and all projects VanPile works on. Keeping crews safe is a crucial aspect of the work both on-site and off-site.

Safety planning for this project began many months before any equipment was mobilized to the barge site. A detailed safety program was created to include all factors that are essential to maintain a safe environment for everyone involved. The program includes site orientation for new workers, daily meetings to discuss relevant safety-related topics, and procedures to ensure weekly inspections, corrective actions, legislative requirements, maintenance, fit tests and other safety standards are met and regularly reviewed.

A safety program is multifaceted and involves coordination with many different levels to ensure its effectiveness. Hazard assessments are the best initial control we can accomplish. Rather than acting reactively to accidents, we prioritize pro-active actions by looking closely at our hierarchy of controls to eliminate, engineer, and substitute out hazards we may encounter. This is a process that considers the crew’s input and knowledge, where we ensure all voices are heard and we’re all on the same page. Communication is by far the most important factor when it comes to a strong health and safety program.

Each action we take throughout the barge deconstruction ensures we are protecting people, project stakeholders, crews and the public. 

Facing fall weather into week 8

September 26, 2022

We’re now into our third month of barge deconstruction. Last week we completed a major milestone, removing the final pieces of the forward rake. Deconstruction is on track and crews have moved on to the aft section of the barge to remove the stern rake. We began preparations for this last week while we waited for the tides to be in our favour at the forward section. Preparations included cutting holes in the deck for ventilation to allow our crews to safely work inside.

This week we hope to remove the deck sections at the stern of the barge and begin preparations to remove the larger piece, similar to what we did on the bow. The stern removal will differ from the bow as it won’t require the additional scaffolding that we installed on the front. The skegs, the two legs sticking out in the back, will support the stern during the deconstruction.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been very fortunate with the weather with calm water and blue skies. We had a few days of wind, shifting our operations, but otherwise the weather has cooperated. Over the next few weeks as fall moves in, we anticipate the weather playing a larger role. Safety for the crew is our number one goal which means weather may result in minor delays or a shift in schedule to accommodate our team. Despite dropping temperatures, here’s hoping for continued sunshine! 

Hitting Milestones in Week 7 of Deconstruction

September 19, 2022

During week seven of deconstruction, the crew has continued work on the forward rig section of the barge. We’re in the final stages of removing the internal structural steel members and then we’ll remove the side shell and bottom plate sections.

This is an important milestone for the project as from this point on, the entire forward section of will be completely removed. This means we’ll be able to remove the scaffolding that was required to support the structural integrity of the barge. Following the removal of the forward rake section, this scaffolding will be completely demobilized. Next, we will move on to the stern to remove back sections.

Once we complete the forward rake section, we’ll move on to the rear of the barge for removal of the half section, and the skegs. This will be another important milestone for the project as once these two sections are complete, we’ll only have the mid body of the barge left to deconstruct.
We’re pleased with the progress of the deconstruction as head into fall. The temperature on the water is getting cooler and we’ve had some smoky skies overhead so can feeling those seasons changing! 


September 12, 2022

Last week we successfully removed the forward most section of the barge, called the head log. This week we’re continuing work on the aft rake of the barge, opening up the deck and removing the side shell sections.

Last week we installed a set of stairs inside the hull. This gives us flexibility to work on the forward rig section. These stairs make it easier to move around the barge, allowing for safe access for our crews. Safe access to the barge has been a huge focus throughout planning and deconstruction. One of the VanPile motto’s is Driven By Safety – To Be The Best; safety is always on our minds.

Next week we’ll continue to work on the forward rake moving towards the mid body of the barge.  Forward scaffolding will be demobilized shortly as we continue deconstruction from the bow to the stern of the barge.

You may have noticed, the external appearance of the barge hasn’t changed much the last few weeks as we’ve worked inside to remove the headlog. As work progresses, you’ll notice the outsides coming down and the look of the iconic barge changing! Work is on schedule despite some high winds and we’re continuing to watch the tides to ensure we’re working as safely and efficiently as possible.  

Environmental Considerations through Planning and Deconstruction with Hatfield

September 5, 2022

Careful consideration on how best to remove the barge while protecting the sensitive marine environment, ecology, and people around it has been a priority throughout the deconstruction process. This includes surveying the adjacent marine habitat, obtaining necessary environmental permits and consulting with indigenous groups, and on-site environmental monitoring throughout removal activities.

Environmental monitors from Hatfield and local indigenous groups are on site full time to keep a close eye on water quality, debris containment, and underwater noise, known as hydroacoustics. They work to implement mitigations including spill prevention, waste management and fish and wildlife protection.

Some of the notable mitigations are that work predominantly occurs from the water or the barge itself to minimize the need for working on the beach. We’ve left the lower portions of the bin walls intact which improves worker safety and allows for containment of demolition debris and stormwater which could pickup fine sediments from the barge deck. We are also constantly surveying the beach for debris and using a magnetic sweeper.

Following barge removal, Hatfield will survey the surrounding marine and intertidal habitat to confirm that it has not been impacted and inform any remedial works should they be required.

Thanks, Francine, for your expertise and support as we care for the environment throughout barge deconstruction.  


August 29, 2022

Week five brought us some great low tides and some incredible summer days. The concrete deck removal is now complete, and we’ve moved onto the forward bow. This step is critical to opening the barge up so crews can get to work inside. The scaffolding around the perimeter and shoreside are also now complete so crews can safely access the barge in its new stage.

The next big milestone we’re looking ahead to is deconstructing the forward rake. This next section will depend again on tides so we’re watching the water’s activity closely. Overall things are going well. The crew is keeping cool in the heat we’ve been having and making great progress. Deconstruction is well underway!


August 15, 2022

The sun has been shining on our crew as we work away on the 3 million pound barge. So far, we’ve got the demolition shear onboard and are snipping at the walls which will continue into next week. Next, we’ll begin to remove the concrete deck structure which completes our first stage of work. The second stage begins with the demolition of the hull which will require scaffolders on-site.

Getting started!

August 1, 2022

Ian Purvis, Project Manager at VanPile for the Barge Deconstruction project is pleased to be getting started. There has been a lot of preparation over the past months to determine the best process for removing the barge. This has included obtaining regulatory permits, consulting with local Indigenous communities, working with the City of Vancouver and other partners, conducting the required engineering and environmental assessments in addition to mobilizing equipment and personnel. Now that the piles are in place, Ian is looking forward to getting that excavator on site next week! Check here for updates from Ian and the rest of the team as deconstruction progresses. 


July 25, 2022

Site preparation and safety barriers are in place and we’re onto next steps. The barge deconstruction process begins this week with the installation of temporary piles to support the marine work and the removal of loose wood chips and debris on the barge deck. The work will be pausing for the long weekend, with the main deconstruction work starting the week of August 2 when a demolition excavator will be lifted onto the barge to remove the bin walls.

The full process to deconstruct and remove the barge from English Bay will take 12-15 weeks. The seawall will remain open during deconstruction and there will be no impacts to traffic or parking in the area and minimal impact to park activities. Check back again for updates, progress, and anticipated timelines.

deconstruction and removal set to begin

June 29, 2022

This week, we begin the much-anticipated process of removing the barge, starting with the installation of safety barriers and fences.

The next stage of work will include additional site preparation and the installation of temporary piles to secure the barge. Once completed, deconstruction of the barge will begin, which includes the removal of the barge walls and hulls in sections. All material will be loaded onto support barges and hauled away by sea to a staging area to be processed and recycled.

The work will have minimal impact to park activities and is expected to take approximately 12-15 weeks to complete once deconstruction has begun. The seawall will remain open during this time and there will be no impacts to traffic or parking in the area.

During this process residents and visitors can expect:

  • Work hours will typically be Monday to Friday, 7:30 am – 5:30 pm.
  • Periods of noise are expected.
  • All work will comply with City of Vancouver noise by-laws and will be monitored.

The barge removal has been carefully planned in consultation with industry experts, partners and First Nation groups. Hazardous material, archeological and structural assessments have been completed to ensure the sensitive marine environment is protected.

Looking forward to getting started!

Thanks for your patience

May 19, 2022

Thank you for your patience as we continue planning the deconstruction and removal of the barge from English Bay. Deconstructing the barge is complex due to the location and condition of the vessel. Removal is being carefully planned and includes consultation with industry experts and partners including the City of Vancouver, the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Canadian Coast Guard and the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority.

Throughout the planning, deconstruction and removal process, we are committed to proactive measures to ensure there are no negative environmental impacts and minimal impact on park activities. At this time, we can confirm the seawall will remain open during deconstruction.

We are working with our partners and hope to have a deconstruction start date to share soon. Thank you for your ongoing patience.


Feb 17, 2022

Since it landed near Sunset Beach, the barge has been a popular attraction and the subject of international media attention. We understand there is public interest in this project and we are happy to provide updates as they’re available. We appreciate your patience!