A billion dollars is a lot of money. It’s enough to seismically upgrade more than 100 B.C. schools and keep children safe. It’s enough to rebuild the town of Lytton, where more than 10 months after the fire, hundreds of people are still waiting on government for help to return and rebuild their lives. It could fund the expansion of vital hospitals, or train thousands of new nurses to address serious staffing shortages.
Instead, our NDP government decided to spend it on rebuilding the 54-year-old Royal BC Museum — a project that will see the site closed for nearly eight years.
If you’re thinking that almost $1 billion seems like an extraordinary amount of money to spend on a museum, you’d be exactly right. In fact, John Horgan’s vanity museum project is set to be the most expensive museum in Canadian history.
Spending money on an important cultural institution like the RBCM is not the issue here — there are seismic concerns about the building and a modest renovation and modernization would have been reasonable. The issue is this government spending almost 10 times more than necessary on a museum that no one asked for, at a time when British Columbians are crying out for government support.
We’re in the middle of an affordability crisis. Gas, groceries and housing are more expensive than ever. Our health care system is on the brink of crisis. And there are so many other important museums, like our own Museum of the Cariboo-Chilcotin, that could have used some support from government after an incredibly difficult two years.
The RBCM project perfectly demonstrates how out-of-touch this government is with the concerns of everyday British Columbians. It shows that this NDP government would rather spend hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on a monument to their own legacy, rather than providing relief to people who desperately need it — and it’s a massive disservice to the people they were elected to serve.
Lorne Doerkson is the MLA for the Cariboo-Chilcotin.