Clean-up crew tackles Fintry Queen vandalism
A volunteer crew got down to work on the Fintry Queen Friday morning, cleaning up the mess left by squatters who broke into the idle former tourist ship a few weeks ago and trashed the inside.
Broken glass, garbage and other debris littering the inside of the ship, as well as graffiti on inside walls greeted the six-person crew of volunteers from Talon Environmental Services.
"It just broke my heart to see the damage," said Talon co-owner Mike Shantz explaining why his company's workers volunteered to help with the clean-up.
The damage to the ship, which was discovered by Andy Schwab. the man helping to try and find a buyer for the once-popular floating tourist attraction.
He said he was shocked at the amount of damage, which has been estimated at $20,000.
"I just got a pit in my stomach when I saw (the damage)," he said. "You feel personally violated."
The vandalism has set back the last-ditch effort to try and sell the ship, which the city has ordered moved to Sutherland Bay by March. The city wants the Fintry Queen gone so it can build a new downtown marina off Kerry Park at the foot of Bernard Avenue.
Schwab said he was surprised when Shantz contacted him "out of the blue" to offer his company's help with the clean-up, a job that could mean having to replace the special Transport-Canada approved wallpaper and carpets as well as replacing mirrors and other glass on board. In addition the sound system used for dances on board was stolen.
The vandals, who Schwab thinks stayed on board for a few days doing the damage, gained entry through sliding doors at the top of the ship. In addition to the former dining area, damage was done to the wheelhouse and, even though there was no electricity or running water on board at the time, the vandals used the toilets creating an even bigger mess for the volunteers to clean up.
Despite mess, Schwab said the ship is still mechanically and structurally sound. But he said there is no way it could be sold in the condition it is now in.
The clean-up was expected to take all day Friday and Shantz said there will still be a fair amount of work for Schwab to do after that, such as painting over the graffiti.
Added security measures have been taken to keep any future would-be vandals off the ship.