Written for Daily Hive by Andrew Wilkinson, leader of the BC Liberal Party and MLA for Vancouver-Quilchena.
Last week, I responded to the NDP government’s budget in the Legislature. In particular, I talked about the ways that their initiatives are hurting affordability in B.C. During that speech, I made some references to my experience of renting a home.
I understand that my comments upset people. I can understand why.
Renting, especially in the Lower Mainland, is extremely difficult. Prices are high, and there are not enough units available. The need to urgently address this problem was the central point of my remarks.
Among the solutions I am proposing are:
1. Support a dramatic increase in rental housing supply by:
* Giving builders the certainty they need to invest in building new rentals.
* Working with local governments to cut red tape to speed up new construction.
2. Build additional student housing so that students aren’t competing with other renters for affordable rentals off campus.
3. Maintain and expand our supply of rentals by supporting long-term affordable co-ops.
I was a renter for 18 years. I had some good experiences, and some bad ones. In my speech in the Legislature, I was referring to that time of my life. My comments were not about the general state of renting now, nor were they about people who rent for much or all of their lives.
There are significant differences between my experience in the 1970s and 1980s, and today. The most critical difference is that I had: the opportunity to get a good education, the opportunity to find a good job, and opportunities to build on that foundation.
More than anything else, the lack of these opportunities is what motivates me in the Legislature. Under the NDP, opportunities are fading away. We have significant economic challenges ahead: collapsing housing construction, falling resource revenues, and unstable trade relationships with the U.S. and China. This means less rental supply, higher taxes, and fewer job opportunities.
None of these factors add up to a positive future for renters. We need to do better.
I understand the frustration with my comments and I regret their lack of clarity. I intend to show British Columbians how deeply I care about the affordability issues we face by continuing to hold the NDP to account. Their damaging policies aren’t helping anyone to get ahead in life. In fact, British Columbians are starting to fall behind, and my team and I will do what we can to help.