CANADA ENTERTAINMENT Horgan suspends controversial redevelopment of the Royal British Columbia...

Horgan suspends controversial redevelopment of the Royal British Columbia Museum

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Premier John Horgan announced Wednesday that the province is suspending a controversial $789 million restoration plan for the Royal British Columbia Museum.

Horgan said the costly project was “the wrong decision at the wrong time” and that the government heard opposition from British Columbians “loud and clear”.

“I made the wrong call,” the prime minister said. “I called when the people of British Columbia were thinking about other issues.”

Horgan explained that British Columbians were unwilling to accept the $800 million price tag for the project as the province grapples with a shortage of doctors, rising costs of living and other critical issues related to the pandemic.

BUT interview published last week by the Angus Reid Institute found that 69 percent of British Columbians oppose the plan.

The museum upgrade, which was announced in May, includes plans to demolish and rebuild a museum in Victoria over the course of nearly a decade.

The prime minister said the province is now returning to the drawing board and the museum will remain open indefinitely. He announced that an extensive consultation process would begin to give British Columbians an opportunity to contribute to how the Royal British Columbia Museum should be modernized.

Horgan said he did not support the redevelopment and remained adamant that the building needed to be rebuilt.

Tourism Minister Melanie Mark defended the redevelopment and called the museum in its current state “non-functional”. She said it was in need of a seismic upgrade, filled with hazardous materials such as asbestos and lead, not accessible to people with disabilities, and structurally inadequate to support a current collection or house large exhibits.
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Exterior of the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria in 2021. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

After criticizing plans to rebuild the museum, the province released more than 2,300 partially redacted pages of reports and appendices supporting the controversial project and explaining why a complete renovation is necessary.

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