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  • One billion for museum too much in face of health, housing and climate crises

    Rosemary Baxter

    An open letter to Premier John Horgan


    MY FAMILY AND I WATCHED your (gleeful) announcement about the demolition of the Royal BC Museum on CHEK TV news last week and your plans for a new one. CHEK then made your plan the “question of the day” and 86 percent of the replies were against it! Not a huge surprise to many of us.

    In the first part of your announcement you gave the number of jobs that would be created, but you didn't tell us the number of jobs that would be lost—within the Museum itself, in Tourism, not to mention the collateral damage done to other businesses in Victoria. You did mention that the buildings were seismically unsafe, that there was Asbestos involved, and went on to talk about a new Indigenous focus that would be given high priority in the new Museum. The cost of this new Museum is quoted as close to $1 Billion dollars and there will be no usable Museum for 8 years.  For those of us who have watched your other projects (Site C) I’d say that the $1 Billion quote is undoubtedly very low and that 8 years would be the minimum time Victoria would be without a Museum!

    It appears that both the asbestos problem and the seismic work can be done without demolishing one of Victoria’s cherished landmarks. And giving priority to Indigenous displays, historical and current, could be done by giving them the best and most accessible areas of the building. 

    Sadly, and in your usual fashion, you used local Indigenous leaders and your own Indigenous Minister of Tourism as back drops. To make it more palatable?  I personally cringe when I see that.  My maternal great grandmother was Ktunaxa and I have a hunch she’d do a bit of cringing herself.  And I cringe when I see how you use them as your “trump” cards yet on the other hand you send the RCMP into Indigenous camps (Wet'suwet'en) with military equipment and dogs to push them out of the way of your frack-based natural gas line construction. This action comes under “environmental racism” and definitely doesn’t come under working towards Reconciliation or honouring of UNDRIP.

    We have a severe doctor shortage in BC and our nurses are in burnout and quitting. This will take money and creativity. 

    BC continues to have record numbers of homeless people and too many addiction deaths, the highest in Canada now. The BC government doesn’t fund Hospice or Palliative care but if you did it would save the health system millions! Acute care beds are costly. That $1 billion should be spent looking after and solving these priorities and not going into building a new not-needed museum.

    And then there’s the elephant in the room.  We’re well into climate change, in fact it has become a crisis everywhere. How much money did the BC government spend on floods and fires cost last year? A sobering thought.

    We can only hope that the opposition parties will work together to stop this very unacceptable project.  If 86 percent voted against it in the CHEK poll just watch that number climb once more BCers  are made aware of the waste…all paid for by the taxpayers of course.  

    Rosemary Baxter and her family live in Courtenay, BC.

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