Big backlash after BC Liberal leader says renting is fun and a “wacky time of life”


WATCH: Reaction is fast and furious after BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson said renting is a “fun” and “wacky time of life” and “part of growing up”.  Tess van Straaten reports.

Renting in Greater Victoria is expensive — it’s one of the priciest markets in the country.

So much so, an increasing number of people in their 20s can’t even afford it.

“It’s not great to say you live at home in your mid-20s,” one 24-year-old who spoke to CHEK News says.

“But it’s a reality,” adds a 27-year-old. So many people are having to live at home.”

The reality of renting, and high home values that have priced people of all ages out of the real estate market, have many outraged over BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson’s comments in the legislature.

“I was a renter for 15 years,” Wilkinson said during budget debate Wednesday afternoon. “It was challenging at times but it was fun. It was part of growing up and getting better. We’ve all done it — it’s kind of a wacky time of life.”

Fun and wacky? It should come as no surprise that reaction was fast and furious.

“There’s nothing fun or enjoyable about struggling to pay rent,” says Emily Rogers of the Together Against Poverty Society (TAPS).

TAPS says the comments are shocking, giving the current housing crisis.

“He’s out of touch and he clearly doesn’t understand,” says Rogers. “In B.C., we have the highest percentage of renters paying more than 50 per cent of their income on rent.”

Political foes also wasted no time criticizing what’s being described as a cringe-worthy comment.

“I think the leader of the opposition really demonstrated his true colours,” housing minister Selena Robinson says. “He’s completely out of touch and demonstrates how indifferent he is to those million and a half renters we have in our province.”

Wilkinson is also getting blasted on social media, with some saying “out of touch is an incredibly generous way to phrase it” as well as on the street.

“That’s total baloney!” one man told CHEK News. “Renting is a necessity for a lot of people or a choice, a lot of people don’t want to buy a house.”

“In this economy, it’s the reality,” a middle-aged renter added. “More and more middle class and even upper middle-class people can’t afford to buy.”

As for that $400 renter rebate the NDP promised?

The government says it’s committed to delivering it this term.

Tess van StraatenTess van Straaten

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