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New BC Liberals leader Kevin Falcon was sworn in as an MLA on Monday and he has wasted no time getting to work.
He slammed the $789-million rebuild for the Royal BC Museum, announced by Premier John Horgan last week, and said that his party would scrap the project if elected into power.
“The timing of this announcement is unbelievable,” said Falcon.
“Life has never been more expensive than it is today under this two-term NDP government — but instead of providing people with relief from skyrocketing grocery costs and gas prices hitting $2.34 a litre, the Premier has launched a pricey vanity project in his own backyard.”
Falcon urged Horgan to scrap the plan, saying that it’s not about the building but rather the history inside it.
“The NDP could renovate the museum to be seismically safe at a much lower cost, while still ensuring adequate resources for conservation and Indigenous repatriation efforts to ensure the museum reflects the full history of British Columbia,” he explained.
Meanwhile, fellow Liberal MLA and Opposition House Leader Todd Stone said that Horgan’s announcement last week shows “how out of touch” he is with the struggles that British Columbians are facing.
He cited a shortage of family doctors, walk-in clinic wait times, crime, homelessness, overdose deaths and rising gas prices as much more pertinent issues within the province.
“A modest upgrade to the museum is one thing, but spending one billion dollars in the middle of simultaneous affordability, public health and public safety crises is another,” noted Stone.
“The Premier needs to open his eyes to the realities British Columbians are facing and change course. Or, if he’s still convinced it’s such a great idea, he should release the full and unredacted business case and cost benefit analysis immediately.”
The BC Liberals aren’t the only party unhappy with the Royal BC Museum plan, as the BC Greens also have concerns about the expensive rebuild.
Adam Olsen, MLA for Saanich North and the Islands, as well as a member of Tsartlip First Nation, said that the announcement of a new Royal BC Museum is not an act of reconciliation.
“Spending nearly $800M on a new museum while only investing $500,000 for repatriation of ancestral remains and items of cultural significance demonstrates how out of touch this Premier is,” he said.
“Indigenous cultures are not curiosities of the past, and our cultural items are not artifacts. Our cultures and practices are alive and well across the province. They are still relevant today and these stolen objects belong in our communities, not exhibited behind glass walls.”
The plan announced by the provincial government last week calls for the Royal BC Museum to close down in September.
It would be replaced by a brand new, seismically-safe building at a cost of $789 million, but the new museum would not open until 2030.