No marine pollution detected after barge runs aground in Central Saanich

(Dave Tyre)
The barge is pictured on Jan. 4, 2024.

The Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) says it’s aware of a wayward barge that landed near homes along the shoreline of Central Saanich on Thursday morning.

The wood-chip barge was first reported drifting north of Saanichton Bay around 10:15 a.m., according to the coast guard.

“I noticed the barge going by,” said Central Saanich resident John Ingham. “I’m constantly looking out the window, so I don’t normally see barges going by in the bay area here.”

A witness told the CCG that the barge had been anchored in the waters off Central Saanich overnight before it began to drift on Thursday morning. Soon after, the barge landed on the side of Lochside Drive – near several oceanfront homes – just north of Mount Newton Cross Road.

“I was wondering what it was doing in this bay ’cause they are generally more towards Saanichton Bay,” said Ingham. 

“And then I started watching it more, and I could see that it was moving at a pretty good clip towards the shore.”

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(CHEK News)

Jan. 4, 2024. (CHEK News)

The coast guard dispatched the Ganges Lifeboat Station to investigate and warn mariners to steer clear of the area.

The CCG was also able to contact the owner of the barge, called the Makoa, who told the coast guard that the barge had no fuel on board.

CHEK News has reached out to the owner of the Makoa, but has not heard back.

The Ganges Lifeboat Station crew assessed the area and does not believe any marine pollution occurred around the vessel.

The coast guard adds it has not received any reports of damage to the barge or nearby properties.

READ ALSO: Coast Guard, First Nations successfully salvage fuel truck that fell off barge into Johnstone Strait

The owner of the barge has told the CCG that it is dispatching two tug boats to recover the vessel.

The coast guard says a timeline for the recovery will depend on the barge’s position and surrounding tides.

“The tugs will attempt a removal this afternoon but may need to wait for the next high tide,” said the agency in a statement to CHEK News Thursday.

“Coast Guard will continue to oversee the response until the barge is removed.”

Transport Canada says it is also aware of the incident.

It’s not the first time a barge has run into trouble on the south coast.

In November 2022, a winter storm slammed a Lafarge barge into the rocks near Esquimalt’s McLoughlin Point after snapping its tow line.

It remained in place for several weeks.

With files from CHEK’s Mary Griffin

The barge is pictured on Jan. 4, 2024. (Jane Barnes)

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