New Westminster – On Wednesday, September 16, 2020, the WOW Westminster public art installation by Brazilian artist José Resende was removed from the timber wharf at Westminster Pier Park following extensive efforts to save this iconic piece. New Westminster Fire and Rescue Services and engineering staff worked diligently since the early hours Monday morning to develop a plan to safely remove the sculpture and maintain the integrity of the installation, but unfortunately, it could not be saved.
“We are sad that we are losing this public art piece, as it was iconic to our city and waterfront,” said Mayor Jonathan X. Cote. “We did everything in our power to save it, but we weren’t able to do it in a way that was feasible and safe.”
On Wednesday afternoon, the emergency response command centre confirmed that the timber wharf was too unstable, and the connections between the installation and the wharf were so degraded due to the impact of the fire that it was not possible to remove WOW Westminster in its intact form in a safe way. Crews were mobilized quickly in order to mitigate any further safety issues and the structure was removed.
WOW Westminster was installed as part of the Vancouver Biennale’s Open Air Museum presentation in New Westminster in 2015. This 140-foot installation, comprised four forty-foot shipping containers cantilevered to form a "W" had become an iconic view along the Fraser River in Westminster Pier Park.
“WOW Westminster was a significant part of the City’s public art collection and was a favourite conversation piece for New West residents and the public art community alike,” said Councillor Mary Trentadue, Council liaison to the Public Art Advisory Committee. “The piece had become such an integral part of the community and we are collectively saddened at its loss.”
Visit the City website to learn more about the impacts of the Westminster Pier Park fire: www.newwestcity.ca.