The budget for the establishment of the Royal BC Museum increases to $270 million

Drawing of the Royal BC Museum collections and research building planned for Colwood, BC (Government of BC - photo credit)

Drawing of the Royal BC Museum collections and research building planned for Colwood, BC (Government of BC – photo credit)

The Royal BC Museum’s new collection and research building, to be built in Colwood, a suburb of Victoria, is now expected to cost nearly $100 million more than originally estimated, according to figures released by the British Columbia government.

The new price is $270 million, up from the $177 million that BC budgeted two years ago. The completion date has also been pushed back by a year to 2026.

According to a government release, “The new budget reflects the hot construction market during the pandemic, along with global inflation, which has put significant pressure on projects around the world, including escalating material and labor costs.”

Construction of the 15,200-square-foot building that will serve as the outpost of the Royal BC Museum in downtown Victoria is slated to begin this summer.

Todd Stone, leader of the opposition Liberal House of Representatives, said the NDP government should cut its losses and cancel plans for the Colwood plant.

“I wish I was surprised to learn that the collection facility is so over budget,” Stone said.

“Look, there’s practically an empty museum in Victoria… there’s an empty field in Colwood. We are telling the Government to scrap this new collection facility entirely and devote these dollars to a proper refurbishment and modernization of the existing facility in Victoria and call it a day.”

Last June, then-Prime Minister John Horgan announced that the province was suspending the controversial $789 million plan to demolish and rebuild the main building of the Royal BC Museum following a public outcry over the cost.

Then-Tourism Minister Melanie Mark defended the plan, describing the museum’s main building, built in 1968, as non-functional, seismic unsafe, filled with hazardous materials such as asbestos and lead, and inaccessible to people with disabilities.

Parts of the museum have been closed in recent years as officials move to decolonize exhibits. Last week, a Nuxalk Nation totem pole near Bella Coola more than a century ago was removed from the museum and repatriated.

The government release said some items currently housed in the museum are at risk from flooding, including archives, early provincial maps and “rare and priceless works of art, including 18th-century watercolours [and] several paintings by Emily Carr.”


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