Missing-bookworm mystery solved

A man has come forward to let Abbotsford Police know what happened with the sculpture that went missing in early July

This bookworm sculpture went missing from Abbotsford's historic downtown in early July.

This bookworm sculpture went missing from Abbotsford's historic downtown in early July.

The mystery of the missing bookworm has been solved.

The art piece, which disappeared from Abbotsford’s historic downtown core last month, is gone for good, and Abbotsford Police Const. Ian MacDonald said it was all a misunderstanding.

He said the manager of the property where the bookworm was located, at the corner of Pauline Street and Essendene Avenue, had noticed that the wood on the sculpture was rotting.

A name plate on the four-by-five-foot solid-wood creation indicated it had been sponsored by the Propsera Credit Union, which no longer has a branch at that site.

The property manager then assumed that the sculpture had been left behind by the business and was no longer wanted by anyone, so he had it transported to the dump.

He did not know that the piece, depicting a bookworm reading an open book, had been co-sponsored by the Abbotsford Downtown Business Association (ADBA) and the Prospera Credit Union in 2001 for $6,000, and donated to the city.

It was one of nine “bench art” pieces located in the downtown core and among those slated for restoration in the near future.

The sculpture was reported missing in early July, and Abbotsford Police began investigating.

MacDonald said the man recently came forward after seeing news reports about the incident. He is not believed to be from Abbotsford.

An investigator tried to see if the piece could be salvaged, but it was too late, MacDonald said.

ADBA president Tina Stewart said the mistake was understandable, confirming that the portion of the sidewalk on which the bookworm was located was not on city property.

She said, for that reason, a replacement piece will not be located there, although talks are underway for more bench art pieces in the downtown area.

The city is talking with the property manager to see if arrangements can be made for a donation towards the public arts program.

Meanwhile, Stewart said the matter has brought more attention back to the bench art pieces – and the one that went missing.

“We’re still getting a lot of comments about it (the bookworm) … It is definitely missed,” she said.