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Save Our Ship
It's a last-ditch SOS to try and keep the HMS Flamborough Head from going down.
A coalition of North Shore groups has organized a public rally on Saturday to oppose a City of North Vancouver decision to dismantle the stern of the North Vancouver-built "Victory" ship that's currently located in front of the Pinnacle Hotel in Lower Lonsdale.
This summer, CNV council voted in-camera to spend up to $250,000 to dismantle the hulking maritime relic.
That council decision was based largely on two factors: the temporary cradle holding the three-storey stern needs to be replaced at a significant cost and after plans for national maritime museum were scuttled in 2010, there hasn't been any for plan showcasing the Flamborough Head.
“It was tabbed to be part of the national maritime centre so when the funding fell through for the national maritime centre from the provincial government I think that was the beginning of the end,” CNV Mayor Darrell Mussatto told The Outlook last month.
“We invested a lot of time, money and energy into [the Flamborough Head] so it was not an easy decision and I can probably say for council it wasn’t an easy decision for them as well.”
And, as the mayor noted, the decision was made behind closed doors because of liability issues.
The cost of disposing the stern is so steep because it contains amounts of asbestos, lead-based paint and pigeon poop — which is also considered a hazardous material.
Council's decision to scrap the stern has rankled many in the local history and preservation community, including John Stuart, president of the North Vancouver Historical Society.
"Of all the ships they built that's it," he says, pointing to the stern of the Flamborough Head, which is being dismantled not far from where it was originally launched on October 7, 1944.
"The last reminder of the glory period [of North Vancouver shipbuilding] is Flamborough. There are no other examples available to us. We can't go out and get another one because there aren't any."
During that period, North Vancouver's bustling shipyards supplied more than 150 of the 10,000-tone Victory ships to the Royal Navy.
Stuart, along with Peter Miller of the North Shore Preservation Society and Ivan Leonard of the Lonsdale Citizens' Association are organizing the demonstration and have created an online petition to oppose the removal of the Flamborough.
The group wants CNV council to stop the current dismantling of the ship's stern and hold a public meeting to discuss its future.
Since acquiring the Flamborough stern from the Artificial Reef Society in 2001 for $1 the city has spent around $381,000 to have the stern removed from the ship, transported to North Vancouver, moved to its current spot and shrink-wrapped.
"The stern of the Flamborough Head is in remarkably good condition and together with the engine and the propeller would make a major tourist destination landmark and a unique icon on the [North Vancouver] waterfront," the group states in a press release.
"This would celebrate the heritage of the City of North Vancouver as well as benefiting the hospitality industry and related businesses."
The rally takes place Saturday (Jan. 18) from 11 a.m. to noon at Shipbuilders Square (just south of the Pinnacle Hotel).