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'We thought we had it right': B.C. cancels $789M redevelopment plan for Royal B.C. Museum


The B.C. government's $789-million plan to redevelop the Royal B.C. Museum has been cancelled, Premier John Horgan announced Wednesday afternoon.

The project was announced on May 13 and was met with swift backlash from opposition parities, who described the plan as out of touch with the needs of British Columbians.

The $789-million plan would have seen the museum close in September, with a new one built at the same site with an opening date eyed for 2030.

"Today I am announcing we are stopping the project and are going back to the drawing board," said Horgan.

"We're asking the board and the CEO and the team at the Royal B.C. Museum to engage the public fully to ensure that we can come back and have a positive statement that all British Columbians can be behind."

The museum will remain open indefinitely, said Horgan.


The premier says the decision to cancel the museum redevelopment came after listening to residents.

Horgan says he "heard the people of British Columbia that we are making the wrong decision at the wrong time."

"We thought we had it right, clearly we did not," he added.

Horgan says many British Columbians are concerned with securing primary care for their families, as well as managing the rising cost of living and other issues that stemmed from the pandemic.

"The public felt we were putting all of those [issues] to one side just to focus on the museum. The wasn't the case but that was the perception," he said.

The premier says other capital projects are still being funded, with the museum redevelopment plan accounting for about one per cent of the province's capital budget over its eight-year construction.

While that plan has been shelved, Horgan says he doesn't want the museum's reconstruction to become a political issue, noting that he's received calls from the museum's board for a redevelopment every year since he became premier, and that similar calls were made during the previous government's tenure.

"I want to be clear to British Columbians it's not an either/or proposition," he said about funding repairs for the museum while addressing other provincial issues.

"I cannot allow something that should be supported by all British Columbians to become a political football," he said.

"Regardless of how you vote, regardless of where you live in British Columbia, people should be proud of our collective heritage."


The premier says the province will conduct further engagement on the future of the Royal B.C. Museum, and review its plans for redevelopment.

"It may well be that this plan is the one that the public says, 'Yes this is the best way forward,'" he said.

No timeline for when the new engagement will take place, or when a new redevelopment plan may be put forward, was announced Wednesday.

Construction of a new museum collections and research building in Colwood, B.C., is still underway. Once complete in 2025, the new facility will house many of the museum's current artifacts, which number around seven million.

The province has said the current museum building on Belleville Street in Victoria falls short of current seismic standards and contains asbestos, and that it is too small to display many of its artifacts or host some other major exhibits. Top Stories

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