McBarge getting $4.5 million makeover for secret new project

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Courtesy Vancouver's Worst Ghost Hunters

After years and years of continued neglect and decay (not to mention tagging and illegal visitors) the McBarge–that seemingly abandoned onetime floating McDonald’s restaurant left over from Expo ’86–is getting a makeover and a new lease on life.

McBarge, formally known as the Friendship 500, “is headed for a $4.5-million refit in Maple Ridge B.C.” CBC reports.

But for what purpose? Owner Howard Meakin is keeping cagey on this one, only revealing that the restored McBarge is going to become a major local attraction.

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SEE ALSO: Rare look inside abandoned McBarge floating restaurant (VIDEO)

It’s good news for the 30-year-old vessel that’s been essentially rotting away in the Burrard Inlet in North Burnaby since the early 90s.

For some years now, a Facebook group called Save the McBarge (Friendship 500) has brought together its former employees and longtime enthusiasts keen on seeing the floating fast food restaurant properly restored and given a real purpose. Recently, the group had switched their name to “Sturgeon’s on the Fraser,” when hopes were high that the McBarge would ship out to Mission, B.C., and be reborn as a restaurant called Sturgeon’s. Sadly, the plans were not approved, and the group went back to its old ID.

Meakin told CBC that this new plan has come together over the past five to six months, and that it is involving a number of participating groups, including government, private, and businesses. It’s also possible McBarge could float on back (or, rather, be tugged) to Vancouver, but Meakin’s not offering up specifics.

Right now, the plan is to move the McBarge to Maple Ridge as soon as the weather permits, which could happen sometime this week.

Curious what the Friendship 500 looked like when it was shiny and new, and cranking out Big Macs and more “upscale” bistro McD’s food for Expo ’86? This Expo ’86 website is packed with nostalgia, including a page of photos of the McBarge in all its glory.

And here are some more recent shots, via Instagram:

The @McDonalds #McBarge. #Expo86

A photo posted by Ryan Warawa (@ryanwarawa) on

Relics of 86 #goldenarches #mcbarge #expo86 #indianarm #explorebc #abandonedplaces #abandonedbc

A photo posted by ↟ (@northwestwander) on

#McBarge #vancouverport #expo86

A photo posted by Devan Bailey (@dbdeville) on

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Lindsay William-Ross Lindsay is a Senior Editor at Vancity Buzz, and currently runs the site's Food section. A fourth generation Vancouverite, she spent the last two decades in Los Angeles, where she was EIC of the city's top blog, earned her MA, attended culinary school, and was an English professor (among other things). Lindsay's first published piece was December 1980 in The Province; it was her letter to Santa. E-mail: lindsay@vancitybuzz.com
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