A jogger passes the Undersea Gardens barge

Undersea Gardens heads to scrap pile at Vic West shipyard

Innovative ideas to keep 50-year-old barge included floating liquor distillery and office space

An aquarium removed earlier this year from Victoria’s Inner Harbour will soon be turned into scrap metal at Point Hope Maritime shipyard.

Undersea Gardens was sited awkwardly along the south end of the Inner Harbour as a popular tourist attraction from 1969 until earlier this year, when owners Oak Bay Marine Group announced the barge would be removed because it was in need of serious repairs.

The dissolution of the Provincial Capital Commission, which owned the area leased by Undersea Gardens, also played a role in its permanent removal.

“We had a few people come up with suggestions for the barge, a few of which I really liked,” said Ian Maxwell, Ralmax CEO, owner of Point Hope Maritime shipyard.

Innovative suggestions for the 150-foot barge included a floating liquor distillery and office space, as the hull remained in good shape.

But this week, a decision was made to break down the barge for scrap metal, Maxwell said.

We’re still taking the asbestos out … but we’re going to dismantle it,” he said.

Undersea Gardens was originally located in Oak Bay from 1964 to 1969. The aquarium played host to thousands of visitors who descended beneath the harbour waters to view West Coast sea life.

A new use for the vacant waterfront property has yet to be determined. The province has extended the lease of the nearby Belleville wharves to Black Ball Ferry Line, which runs the Port Angeles Coho ferry, and Clipper Navigation Ltd. until 2017 while it develops a longterm plan for the area with the City of Victoria.

dpalmer@vicnews.com

 

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