A public-engagement process starting in Victoria next month and expanding throughout the province is aimed at giving residents the opportunity to talk about the future of the Royal B.C. Museum.
It’s expected to take three years to complete the first two stages of the process and to present a final report.
From there, a decision will be made whether to move into a third phase of continued engagement or to begin preparing a plan for a “revised, public-informed concept of a modern museum,” a museum announcement said Wednesday.
A public-input process was anticipated for the museum after then-premier John Horgan announced in June that a $789-million building-replacement project was on “pause.”
That plan was put on hold after a public furore erupted when the province said it would close the partly empty museum in September of this year to rebuild it, with an anticipated 2030 opening.
Critics said it was more important to spend the money on housing, health care and upgrading schools and hospitals to withstand earthquakes.
After initial public meetings are held in Victoria early in the new year, more will be staged throughout the province. Online meetings via Zoom are also planned.
The first public consultation process is set to run from January into spring. Meetings will be led by museum chief executive Alicia Dubois. Feedback will help frame the museum’s formal engagement strategy in the second phase, the statement said.
The museum said it will also conduct a public survey.
Everyone in B.C. is invited to take part in the public engagement process. Groups the museum plans to connect with include municipalities, First Nations, urban Indigenous, Métis and Inuit peoples, culturally based focus groups, business organizations, post-secondary institutions and youth.
Jeff Bray, chief executive of the Downtown Victoria Business Association, said the three-year timeline is too long. “I think you could do that consultation in six months.” A long process will damage the museum’s reputation, said Bray. Much of the interior has already been removed, with the dismantling of the third-floor exhibits.
Registration is open for the meetings to be held at the Newcombe Conference Hall at the museum. The museum said space is limited and asks people to RSVP to reserve a seat.
Meetings will be held in Victoria on Jan. 17 and Jan. 26 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and again from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
A Jan. 31 meeting will run from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. with a Zoom link provided with registration.
For more information go to royalbcmuseum.bc.ca/community-engagement.