Scrubbing Surrey’s huge flagpole: Acrophobics need not apply

GUILDFORD – Surrey’s landmark Canadian flagpole has been given a citrus-scented bath.


The giant metal structure on the Barnes Wheaton auto lot was scrubbed by a pair of cleaners who clearly aren’t afraid of heights.


"You can actually see Victoria, it’s great." said Andrew Van Rijswijk, who washed the pole last Thursday (May 28) with the help of coworker Mike Owens. They stood in a metal "man basket" as a big crane lifted them nearly 170 feet off the ground.


For this job, John Gould, who runs Dominion Power Washing, subcontracted Surrey-based Mega Cranes Ltd. to bring in a 270-ton crane – one of the biggest around.


The two washers used a 12-inch "wall spinner" to scrub and spray the pole with 4,000 psi of slightly sudsy water, finishing a job they started a week earlier. "We’re using a citrus-based solution to get rid of the mildew," Gould explained.


The flagpole was brought to the dealership site in 1987, a year after it stood as the world’s largest freestanding such pole at the Expo 86 fair in Vancouver.


Auto dealer Greg Barnes gladly inherited the landmark flagpole, along with all the work and costs that come with it, when Barnes Wheaton took over the 104th Avenue site in 2012.


The pole has to be scrubbed every four or five years, Barnes said, and some years the whole thing needs to be painted.


As for the flag itself, it’s a constant challenge to keep it in acceptable condition.


"That’s a 50-by-80-foot flag up there, so it’s 4,000 square feet, and they cost around $4,500 a piece to replace," Barnes noted.


"Depending on the weather, we’ll go through four or five flags a year, at least. There’s a responsibility with it, because it can’t be tattered or ripped at all, and people expect it to be in good condition, as it should."

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