Historic floating net shed offered to Richmond

City council is mulling the idea of acquiring a floating net shed house.  - Photo courtesy of
City council is mulling the idea of acquiring a floating net shed house.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of

It was picked up for free on Craigslist a few years ago, now the city could spend up to $17,000 to determine whether it’s worth saving.

Rhianna Featherstone owns a floating net shed house moored at Mitchell Island. Facing eviction from harbour officials, she’s offered to donate the 8.5-by-20-metre structure to Richmond, and wants to continue living in it as a caretaker.

Last night city council was expected to ratify an earlier unanimous committee vote to study the building for its historical relevancy—as long as the owner agrees to the city’s terms—paving the way for a potential move to Scotch Pond or Britannia Heritage Shipyard.

The city wants the owner to first agree the shed could no longer be occupied, to avoid costly upgrades to accommodate building codes, city bylaws and utility hookups.

If the owner agrees to terms, the city would then complete a statement of historical significance, building condition report and marine survey.

According to a report from Coun. Harold Steves, the net shed was built sometime between 1910 and 1920, and originally located on the Delta side of the Fraser River.

Hundreds of similar buildings once lined the river at Steveston, he noted, either built on stilts or barges. Net shed houses featured living quarters and an area for hanging fishing nets.

“Amazingly, this net shed house is in excellent condition and still has the large sliding doors on either side, the original siding and original tongue and groove fir floor in the living quarters,” said Steves in his report.

Steves said if acquired, the city could locate the building at either Scotch Pond—where it could be used as an interpretive centre—or Britannia Heritage Shipyard, where it could be used as an exhibit.

Britannia supervisor Bryan Klassen said in a report to council the net shed would add an important element to the heritage inventory of the city.

“It is representative of a part of our maritime history, which no longer exists in Richmond. At Scotch Pond or Britannia Heritage Shipyard it could expand the community’s current understanding of the importance of the river, the foreshore and the fishing industry in our community.”

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