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Opinion: Falcon beaking off about museum upgrade

Perhaps the timing could have been better but the rebuild is something which must be done.
The Royal BC Museum in downtown Victoria. Photo by Darren Stone/Times Colonist

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Especially in politics.

This past week Kelvin Falcon returned to the legislature in the capacity as the leader of the opposition. (Kudos to Shirley Bond for managing the portfolio in the interim.) Falcon previously served under both Gordon Campbell and Christy Clark in a number of portfolios such as the Minister of Transportation and Minister of Finance.

In his return to the legislature, Falcon lambasted the B.C. NDP for the announcement of the rebuild/refurbishment of the B.C. Provincial Museum. Describing it as a “boondoggle” and a “vanity museum project,” Falcon took Premier Horgan to task because the project is in “his own backyard.” The implication is that MLAs and the Premier in particular shouldn’t be engaged in major capital projects in their constituencies.

Of course, the provincial museum is across the street from the Legislature, so one could say it is in every politician’s backyard.

But let’s consider Falcon’s comments because as Minister of Transportation and a cabinet member pretty much his entire previous stint in government, he approved billions of dollars in infrastructure projects including the $3.3 billion Port Mann bridge.

Guess what riding he was representing at the time? Surrey-Cloverdale. A direct beneficiary of a hugely expensive bridge that suffered cost overruns and drops ice on cars. Talk about a boondoggle in someone’s backyard.

Falcon was part of the crew responsible for the massively expensive upgrades to the B.C. Place stadium and the Vancouver Convention Centre. And the $600 million Sea-to-Sky highway upgrade so people living in multi-million-dollar homes in Whistler could get home quicker.

One could make an argument, as Falcon did when in government, that the billions of dollars spent upgrading facilities in Vancouver were and are necessary. Fair enough.

But when it comes to fixing the B.C. Provincial Museum, well, that is a step too far. Suddenly, infrastructure projects are too expensive and we need to see the business case.

The museum is over 50 years old and in desperate need of a makeover. It is a major tourist attraction for the capital and the province. Perhaps the timing could have been better but the rebuild is something which must be done. Just like all these other major infrastructure projects.

Todd Whitcombe is a chemistry professor at UNBC.