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Rusting ferry towed from Union Bay to Richmond

The rusting Queen of Burnaby, decommissioned since 2017 and languishing in Union Bay since last November, was towed back to BC Ferries facilities in Richmond on Thursday.
The Queen of Burnaby is towed from Union Bay on Thursday, May 12, 2022. CHEK NEWS

The rusting Queen of Burnaby, decommissioned since 2017 and languishing in Union Bay since last November, was towed back to BC Ferries facilities in Richmond on Thursday.

BC Ferries spokeswoman Deborah Marshall said with refit season coming to a close, more space is available at the Richmond facility as the corporation “actively evaluates options for recycling the ship that comply and follow all safety and environmental procedures, regulations and legislation.”

Marshall said BC Ferries has had a temporary mooring arrangement in Union Bay since the fall.

The 1965-built ship, which transported people and vehicles between Comox and Powell River before being decommissioned, made headlines in 2018, when it was sold for more than $650,000. However, the deal fell through. It’s remained in BC Ferries’ hands since.

At the time of the auction, BC Ferries said a buyer had to conduct an “environmentally acceptable breaking of the ship” for scrap or keep it in “a static application.”

The auction notes on the Queen of Burnaby said the vessel was no longer fit for sailing, was leaking hydraulic oil and contained hazardous materials — including asbestos.

Its sister ship in the class, the Queen of Nanaimo, was retired and sold to a Fijian company.

Union Bay residents had voiced concerns about the possibility that the ferry would be taken apart at an old log-sorting area, now the site of a ship-breaking business.

Residents argued ship-breaking is hazardous to the environmentally sensitive ocean ecosystem in an area where oysters and other shellfish are plentiful.

On April 14, the Comox Valley Regional District filed a notice of civil claim with the Supreme Court of British Columbia to stop ship-breaking operations at 5084 Island Highway.

The regional district said it had received complaints about the operations of Deep Water Recovery.

The CVRD board approved the legal action to stop ship-breaking on the property. The land use is considered to be contrary to industrial marine zoning and the regional district claims ship-breaking is not an allowable use.

The regional district said the court process is expected to take several months.

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