The BC NDP government is thinking ahead with their push to begin the Royal BC Museum demolition just months before the next Provincial election. Strategically planned preventing the opposition from cancelling the mega project if they win power in the next election.
According to newly released details Wednesday, May 25, 2022, the schedule to hit the exhibition hall in March 2024. The next election is October 19 of that year.
Tourism Minister Melanie Mark denied she’s denied she was trying to rush it through even with a flood of public backlash that the government should be instead spending the money on fixing the family doctor crisis, easing high gas prices, or building more affordable housing and child care spaces.
On Wednesday, when asked about the timeline “Government is about making choices,” Mark said, “And we have made it clear our government wants to protect our collective history.”
The BC Liberals want to stop the museum rebuild for a different option.
Since the Royal NC Museum rebuild was announce BC Liberal leader Kevin Falcon has vowed to toss what he calls a “tone-deaf billion-dollar museum vanity project”, and opt with doing smaller, less expensive, safety upgrade to the existing 50-year-old facility.
“This half-baked project must be cancelled before it’s too late, and the money reinvested in people,” Falcon said Wednesday.
However the planned construction schedule may pose difficulties if he wins office with multiple structures already demolished.
“If that was the motivation, then shame on John Horgan and the NDP,” said Liberal MLA Todd Stone.
“British Columbians should know that if they do proceed, and they do demolish this museum prematurely, what they’re essentially doing is putting a big gaping hole in downtown Victoria that will be there for 10 years.”
Royal BC Museum Business case
The big reveal of the Royal BC Museum business case to justify the project risks and design assumptions redacted and blacked out.
The government did release the business case on Wednesday — with key sections about costs, labour agreements, project risks and design assumptions redacted as secret.
Seismic risk is the defense for the rebuild
Expert assessments of the museum buildings’ seismic condition were included in the business case documents on Wednesday. According to the documents there was structural and non-structural seismic assessments, and the results show buildings are rated as high seismic risk
However, there are 48 BC school districts with average school seismic ratings that are on par with or worse than the Royal BC Museum, putting children in classrooms at risk of death.
Some schools in Delta, Richmond, Vancouver, Burnaby, North Vancouver, West Vancouver, Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Langley, and Surrey are currently at a higher risk of collapsing in an earthquake than the museum in the Lower Mainland.
Karin Kirkpatrick, B.C. Liberal education critic, said the price tag for a new museum would cover the costs of reconstructing the Fraser Canyon community of Lytton, which was largely devastated by fire in June 2021, as well as seismically updating half of the province’s schools.
The government’s seismic upgrade program for schools is going as anticipated, according to Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside, and is unaffected by Horgan’s museum announcement last week.
In February 2022, BC government announced $3.1 billion for new schools and seismic upgrades on education over a three-year period.
Government rests its case
The BC government just doesn’t care and appears the release of the business case this week is end of argument and will go ahead with its plans to rebuild.
But it has done little to dampen its critics or lift the public mood.
“This has been a public relations disaster,” said BC Green MLA Adam Olsen.
“At a time when British Columbians are struggling with an affordability crisis, the government has chosen to build the most expensive museum ever constructed in Canada
“It is no wonder the public response has been overwhelmingly negative. The BC NDP have failed to bring people along in a process that has been ongoing for years.”