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These readers don't like the $789-million museum plan; send us a letter if you think it's a good idea

B.C. government wants to tear down the Royal B.C. Museum and spend $789 million to replace it; projected opening is in 2030. No details have been provided about the budget or the timeline.
The Royal B.C. Museum in downtown Victoria. TIMES COLONIST

We have received dozens of letters about the provincial government’s plans to replace the Royal B.C. Museum with a new building, which is to open in 2030.

Here is a sample of the letters — and we are sure to have more in the next few days.

We would love to hear from readers who support the proposal. As you will see, since Friday we have only received letters from people who are opposed to it.

Our NDP government thinks it is more important to spend $1 billion and counting to demolish the Royal B.C. Museum and build a new one to house historical displays instead of using these scarce funds to help fix our well-known severe health crisis.

A more misguided decision cannot be imagined.

Today more than one million citizens are without a family physician, clinics are closing because there are not enough doctors to staff them, infirm seniors are waiting for hours in inclement weather to access a clinic (if they are lucky), life-threatening surgeries are delayed or cancelled, and on and on. Yet our government has decided that replacing the museum trumps correcting this broken system.

In times of scarce funding, replacing the museum is a discretionary, nice-to-have endeavour. This is a frightening choice.

Allocating these funds to an urgent non-discretionary essential service that protects the health and well-being of its citizens is a no-brainer.

It appears that our government is so out of touch and inept it is unable to make intelligent decisions that are critical to its citizens. What were they thinking? Seems they were not.

Perhaps this will be their “fast ferry fiasco.” Can’t wait.

N.G. Giuliany

The NDP’s recent priority is mindboggling. No, it is not the fast ferries again and Mike Harcourt. That was last time.

Premier John Horgan and his gang are going to rebuild a world-class museum. This is at a time when people can’t find a doctor or affordable housing, there is minimal support for the mentally ill, and we are years into an opioid crisis.

But the construction industry is over the moon. They know the $789-million estimate will balloon to more than $1 billion. Of course, the public will not have this verified until after the next election.

Imagine you are a travel agent trying to sell a family with young children a package to Victoria. There is NO Maritime Museum, NO Undersea Gardens, NO Crystal Gardens, and NO Wax Museum. And soon NO Royal B.C. Museum for at least seven years. Good luck.

We are witnessing a familiar NDP pattern. After after a few years, the activists take over. Horgan is the new Harcourt.

To quote Marcus Aurelias: “The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.”

Ann and Michael Wilmut

I am an historian — so was my father — and I get how important history is. But in my opinion some things need to be fixed now before any more money is spent on preserving antiquity.

For example:

1. Create a safe place for the homeless who want to recover from their addictions to do so. These serious social issues are discouraging people from visiting downtown, fearing random attacks from the homeless and bored youth in our city. Our downtown is getting a bad reputation as a dangerous place to be in. I have lived here for most of my life and am sad to see these changes.

2. Programs directed toward Gen Z, many of whom seem lost and unsure of their ability to maintain the lifestyle they have become used to, given the rising cost of living and housing, impeding their ability to “launch” to an independent life.

3. Rail transit into Victoria instead of adding more lanes to the road. The infrastructure is already there. Many people avoid downtown because of traffic congestion and lack of parking. It’s a shame there is no longer a rail link to the downtown area, but a transit hub in Esquimalt could solve that problem.

4. Encourage more doctors and nurses to work here, to staff much-needed private practices and clinics. Many nurses in my social group say that they are working under very difficult, short-handed conditions and are ready to quit.

These things would merit the $789 million more than a museum does.

Lorraine Buchanan

Historically, my voting strategy has been to indignantly vote against the party who has most recently ticked me off the worst. Last time it was the Liberals, and I was practically giddy with delight to see them go.

It gave me fresh hope that we would finally have a government that would conduct its business with the welfare of its citizens (a.k.a. voters) in mind.

Given the atrocious state of our medical system, including the lack of family doctors, I am disgusted at the announcement of this frilly expenditure while so many of us — voters, I might emphasize — are out in the cold in terms of basic health care.

If Premier John Horgan cares at all about those of us who stand to either re-elect or oust him, he will work first and foremost to ensure that we the voters have access to the same prompt and efficient, not to mention available, health care he received when he had his most recent health crisis.

I believe there is a rally regarding the abysmal health care issue soon to be held practically within view of his office. He might be advised to take a good look out his window and rethink this issue lest he be accused of fiddling while Rome burns.

Kathleen Worth

Opposition to a new museum facility is generally a non-issue given the genteel nature of the capital region, but for the province to point out that asbestos is a risk factor is out of touch.

Many schools in the province that educate, and house, perhaps dare I say things of even more value and cultural significance, face the same asbestos issue. The province is taking an unnerving blind eye to the infrastructure that houses our very best.

Patrick James Seymour

What clown would decide to spend $1 billion on a new museum when the current museum is working well, when we have such a critical doctor shortage? Tell that to those who are dying and in need.

What part of “disconnect” don’t they understand?

Ann Nelms

How ironic that Premier John Horgan announced his government will be spending an estimated $789 million of taxpayer dollars to replace a 54-year-old complex that currently houses the Royal B.C. Museum, and then suggested that people try not to use their cars, or if possible ask a friend to give them a ride in order to save money on gasoline.

Next he will be suggesting that we all eat less to avoid the high cost of food or move out of our homes and sleep in the parks to avoid the high cost of housing.

Clearly this government is hoping the electorate has a very short memory.

Bruce Cline

Why the big rush? One gets the impression if we were not in the middle of tourist season Premier John Horgan would have closed the museum within 48 hours of your announcement.

Why was there not a scale model of the new edifice on display complete with architectural plans as is usual for any new development of this magnitude?

How did he arrive at an $800-million price tag when we can’t be told how many storeys the new structure will have, including floor space and whether the popular Imax theatre will be included?

Has a demolition contract already been awarded? Has anyone seen just one example of a display the First Nations have agreed on? Questions, questions, it’s hard not to be suspicious.

With the demise of the museum it is all the more important the maritime museum be found a proper home on the waterfront and the former Canadian Pacific Steamship Terminal seems an ideal fit.

Yet we are told the government can’t agree on a rental contract with them.

Considering the importance of preserving our early maritime history and the popularity of an outstanding display for our tourists, is it not unreasonable to think an appropriate rent would be $1 per year plus upkeep?

This should be settled before RBCM is torn down.

Norm Bradshaw
Cordova Bay

As there are usually over-runs, the new museum will likely amount to $1 billion.

In other words, 1,000 million dollars.

It would also mean destroying a perfectly good building.

Was this proposal conceived by a civil servant or a politician?

I have never participated in a demonstration of any kind but will be if this proposal is scheduled to proceed.

I have voted for the NDP over the past 30 years, but not again.

Ron Dibb
Cobble Hill

I have no problems with a new museum being built in our city. But I am worried that the final product will be mainly about the Indigenous Peoples, with merely a nod to the rest of the displays we used to have.

And certainly the suggestion that they remove the term “Royal” from the museum’s title does not give me much hope to think otherwise.

This is not a slag against the First Nations. It’s just that this city does not have much of a reputation with respect to “balanced approaches.”

Jim Parker
James Bay

I was very disheartened to hear about the replacement for the museum. This to me is ridiculous and foolhardy.

Of course we all know the budget will grow and $1 billion is probably more accurate. I’m a cancer patient who lost a GP over a year ago and just recently gained access to a clinic only to find it is closing.

Too many people on the Island are in a similar situation, and the government wants to spend an enormous sum on a propaganda exercise that will bring little needed assistance to the Indigenous population.

A friend mentioned that this was like the Clark fast ferry fiasco and I agree. I have always voted NDP, but I can’t do so in the future if the government goes ahead with this project.

Our money is badly needed elsewhere.

Rob Brown
Oak Bay

I’m horrified. There’s no need for a new museum. It just needs updating.

And we desperately need something for housing and health care, and not for twiddling about with the past.

Alison Acker

By the time the proposed new museum is finished I’ll be 93. Ouch!

My suggestion (if anyone is listening) is that if $1 billion must be spent, then get Langford Mayor Stew Young to build it and the years of construction will be at least halved.

Also, don’t just store the artifacts, put them on display in various locations around the city so they are still a viable attraction to visitors and the public (me).

I’m not a proponent of the ideas that the money would be best spent elsewhere. What would the world look like if all the museums, cathedrals, theme parks etc. were never constructed because money could be better used elsewhere?

But — eight years?

Eric Roberts

Did I really read the headline correctly? The province has a chronic shortage of doctors and the government is spending $789 million on a museum?

I can’t wait to see the exhibit chronicling the demise of the health-care system in the first quarter of the 21st century.

Robert Cameron

My wife and I have been residents of Sidney for 30 years. We have experienced many aspects of health care, including a lack of family doctor.

We are appalled by the lack of action at the provincial level to deal with the shortage of doctors and nurses. And now they are going to spend more than $700 million on a museum.

Have you looked at the salaries of senior government administrators in provincial and local government, health care and education?

In addition to large salaries, they have the benefits of paid vacations, stat holidays, extended health, sick leave and generous pensions.

Doctors are self-employed and receive none of these benefits. I have worked in government and know that the approximate cost of these benefits mean that actual remuneration for time worked is about 150 per cent of salary.

Budget amount is usually 25 to 30 per cent of salary, but ignores the cost of vacations, stat holidays and sick time.This takes the cost to 50 per cent.

It seems a family doctor is remunerated a net amount of about $25 per patient visit. No wonder they are not attracted to the field and leave early.

We know the solution is complex, but an easy and immediate fix is to significantly increase the remuneration per patient.

Anne and David Bartley

Premier John Horgan seems to be mighty proud to announce spending $1 billion of taxpayers’ money for a new museum in Victoria.

Meanwhile, a letter to the editor in Saturday’s Times Colonist rightfully laments that governments over the past decades have known about our health-care crisis and doctor shortage, and notes that governments “have not been willing to change anything in enlarging residency numbers, presumably because it would cost money.”

Where are Horgan’s priorities? They certainly don’t align with the public’s priorities.

I think $1 billion (that’s a thousand million dollars) would go a long way toward increasing residency numbers for new doctors. I’d rather have a family doctor than a new museum.

Peter Lutzmann

If Premier John Horgan is looking for a legacy, he should make it an improved health-care system, not a new museum.

Consider these facts:

1. News media report that B.C. doctors are paid half what doctors in Ontario and Alberta (confirmed by my family doctor). Basic appointments reportedly yield a doctor $31.

If an appointment averages 20 minutes that is $93 per hour, from which the doctor must cover his overhead costs (rent, staff, utilities, etc.)

That rate is less than the hourly charge-out rates for trades such as electricians, plumbers and carpenters, and those hard-working trades are not overpaid.

Shame on our provincial government. Double the pay for our doctors, and tax us to cover the cost. I will gladly pay.

2. Regarding the proposed new provincial museum, the existing museum is among the best in Canada, and any museum records our history as it actually was — good or bad — not what it should have been.

Do not tear it down on the excuse that it is not earthquake-proof. When all schools in the earthquake-prone zones of the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island have been seismically upgraded then, and only then, worry about the museum.

3. The proposed new museum cost of $789 million would do a lot for all parts of our medical system, and would seismically upgrade a lot of schools.

B.C. has done a good job of handling the COVID pandemic. Don’t tarnish that positive by choosing a museum over an upgraded health system.

Rod Fimrite
North Saanich


• Email letters to: [email protected]

• Mail: Letters to the editor, Times Colonist, 201-655 Tyee Rd., Victoria, B.C. V9A 6X5

• Submissions should be no more than 250 words; subject to editing for length and clarity.

• Provide your contact information; it will not be published. Avoid sending your letter as an email attachment.