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Park board installs 'Barge Chilling Beach' sign next to Vancouver's runaway barge

The Vancouver Park Board has installed a sign near the barge that ran aground near Sunset Beach during the storms of Nov. 15. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)
The Vancouver Park Board has installed a sign near the barge that ran aground near Sunset Beach during the storms of Nov. 15. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)

The Vancouver Park Board has bestowed the city a holiday gift (its words, not ours) in the form of an official sign commemorating the barge that crashed into the seawall after becoming unmoored during the storms of Nov. 15.

The sign — which reads 'Barge Chilling Beach' — appeared on Sunset Beach on Wednesday morning.

The barge, which had not budged from its spot over the past month despite multiple attempts to move it, has become an unlikely source of joy — or distraction — during a month where major highways and infrastructure have crumbled away, entire cities and tracts of farmland were submerged in floodwaters, and tolls have accumulated from the pandemic.

Ben Nelms/CBC
Ben Nelms/CBC

Many residents have made their way to the barge, brick red and devoid of goods, to gawk at its colossal size up close.

The barge has inspired countless memes, selfies, and a premature memorial. It also tweets.

Donnie Rosa, general manager of the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation, said the idea came from the people.

"We've been seeing people kind of having fun, taking pictures, all the messaging out there and we thought let's add to the fun and let's bring a little more joy to the season, if you will," Rosa said.

Rosa says the sign is temporary, but it will remain up as long as the barge is around.

Watch the moment when the barge met the seawall:

At the risk of ruining the joke, it bears explaining the city's history with signs.

In the years before the pandemic, a park called Guelph Park was home to a sculpture resembling a man or, colloquially, a dude (its original name was Reclining Figure).

In 2014, the artist Viktor Briestensky installed an official-looking sign that read "Dude Chilling Park."

The Vancouver Park Board removed the unauthorized sign. Public outcry ensued. A local resident gathered hundreds of names on a petition to get the city to put it back in place.

And the city did. When the sign was later stolen, the Park Board replaced it with an official one.

The park board says it knows that at the end of a long and difficult year, the only sensible thing to do is to give in to the lure of the barge.

"Vancouverites have a unique sense of humour. We like to take these things and run with them," Rosa said.