An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
IN POLITICS, discretion is sometimes the better part of valor.
Premier John Horgan has learned that lesson, as evidenced yesterday with his announcement that he’s suspending plans for a $789-million rebuild of the Royal B.C. Museum.
The government “made the wrong decision at the wrong time,” said Horgan, taking full responsibility for the screw-up and acknowledging that British Columbians are in no mood for it as they face rampant inflation. “I made the wrong call at the wrong time,” he admitted.
Rather than shutting it down and taking years to tear it down and rebuild it, Horgan says the museum will remain open indefinitely.
While it’s good that Horgan has seen the light, he doesn’t deserve too much credit for his about-turn. The rationale for the decision was, shall we say, flexible, from the need to put more emphasis on indigenous culture, to asbestos to fear of flooding. It should never have been hatched in the first place, and it shouldn’t have taken 40 days for the premier to understand it was a non-starter with the public, and to do something about it.
He says the public will now be extensively consulted, putting the blame on COVID for not doing proper consultation in the first place.
Horgan must now lay out a clear strategy for how he’s going to undertake that consultation and how citizen input might influence the ultimate fate of the museum. If he’s just stalling for time so he can resurrect the whole thing with a few tweaks, forget it.
Revisiting must include the option not only of revamping and expanding the existing building, but of retaining the exhibits that have been so beloved by the B.C. public and visitors alike. Give us back the Old Town, the HMS Discovery and the mastodon.
Horgan says he changed his mind because he’s listened. Well, he’s got a whole lot more listening to do yet.
I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at email@example.com.