Removal of the HMS Flamborough Head
It was built in 1944 at the Burrard Dry Dock right here in North Vancouver, a site responsible for the completion of over 450 ships, including many warships during the first and second world wars. The Cape-Class escort maintenance ship was originally built for the Royal Navy as the HMS Flamborough Head and served under British command. The purpose of the ship was to serve as a navy repair vessel during the Second World War, and was one of many such ships constructed in North Vancouver.
The HMS Flamborough was transferred into the Royal Canadian Navy in 1952 and then renamed the HMCS Cape Breton. The vessel served until 1975 and was then used as a floating machine shop. In 2001, the ship would eventually be sunk in BC waters in 2001 by the Artificial Reef Society of British Columbia. The HMCS Cape Breton now rests near Snake Island in Nanaimo harbour as part of a popular scuba diving site.
The stern of the ship was dismantled and placed in North Vancouver’s Lower Lonsdale, to eventually be used as a major attraction for a maritime museum to be developed at the waterfront. However, this project lost all momentum following a lack of government funding and the plans were abandoned in 2007. Since that time, the stern was unintentionally re-designated as a popular pigeon hangout.
The city is now prepared to pay $250,000 for the removal of hazardous materials, deconstruction and scrapping of the stern. The council has deemed that the cost of dismantling the structure is a more favourable option than the costs that would be associated with converting the structure into a museum. The entire structure of the stern would basically need replacement, and that would be an extremely expensive endeavour.
There are some that are upset over the abandonment of the museum project, as many members of the community wish to see better recognition of the ship building heritage that has shaped this community. Ship building has been a part of Lower Lonsdale for over a century, there is still a lot of evidence of it remaining on the waterfront but the area is undoubtedly changing and many residents of this North Vancouver community welcome the idea of a maritime museum dedicated to the area’s past.
Last year Vancouver-based developer, Intracorp, finished construction on their new North Vancouver development the Versatile Building at the corner of Third and Lonsdale, and much of the design and planning of the development was based on the area’s maritime history. The name itself, the Versatile building, is a nod to the Versatile Pacific Shipyards. Owners of these new North Vancouver condos can also be proud of two new additions of public art unveiled outside of the building which also pay tribute to the shipbuilding history.
Although residents will no longer see the Flamborough Head transformed into the focal point of a Lower Lonsdale maritime museum, there has been an announcement that North Vancouver’s Lower Lonsdale community will receive a waterfront art gallery. The new project is planned for 2016 and the city of North Vancouver is to pay $2.5 million out of the total $15 million anticipated cost.