While one in five are all for it, a new poll finds a majority of British Columbians are opposed to the new Royal BC Museum (RBCM) bound for Victoria.
The poll released on Thursday by the Angus Reid Institute gathered responses from 615 BC adults last week, including 69% who said they were against the $789-million museum project and 22% who voiced support.
On May 13th, BC officials said the RBCM on Belleville Street would close come September 6th to make way for a state-of-the-art, seismically safe building expected to open in 2030.
Premier John Horgan summed it up as a “historic investment” to build a safer, more inclusive and accessible modern museum—replacing the aging facility people have flocked to for decades.
“Once complete, the new museum will be a flagship destination for tourism and a place where generations to come will learn about the richness and diversity of BC’s history,” said Horgan.
The BC government released a business case claiming the current museum had reached the end of its “useful life,” with costs to replace the facility less than the estimated $1.1 billion for upgrades.
Still, while 18% of survey respondents would pursue the government’s chosen plan to rebuild, the survey found most, or 62%, would rather the government stick to the “status quo” and keep things as is.
That means scrapping the museum project altogether and maintaining the current facility at a cost of $89 million over the coming decade, according to Angus Reid.
Kevin Falcon, leader of the BC Liberals, called the new proposed museum a “vanity project” that comes as living costs soar.
“The timing of this announcement is unbelievable. Life has never been more expensive than it is today…” said Falcon.
Angus Reid calls it public backlash amid other “political headwinds” faced by Horgan’s NDP government, including inflation and a lack of healthcare staff.
“Indeed, asked to identify their top priorities, cost of living (61%), health care (47%), and housing affordability (43%) dominate,” according to the institute.
“The performance of the BC government on many of those issues is heavily criticized,” it added, noting that 87% of respondents find the BC NDP is doing a “poor job” on housing affordability—the lowest score in Canada.
Other poll results released on Tuesday found Horgan’s approval dropped seven points to 48% this quarter, as the NDP hold an 11-point advantage in vote intention (42% to 31%) over the BC Liberals.