'Socialism will always fail': Billionaire Chip Wilson addresses protesters outside his home
Protesters gathered outside billionaire Lululemon founder Chip Wilson's mansion in West Point Grey Saturday for what they called a "rave against renovictions."
The group was mostly made up of artists, activists, and small business owners, some of whom said they had been renovicted by Wilson's development company, Low Tide Properties.
Asked why they chose Wilson, protester Jodie Overland said he's "an easy target," but also one who has caused real harm to artist communities in Vancouver.
"Realistically, he's not doing anything wrong in the sense of capitalism," Overland said. "What is wrong is the greed that's happening. Like, he's already got a billion dollars. We don't have anything. We just want our spaces, and we just want to exist peacefully."
Low Tide Properties is a sponsor to the Vancouver Mural Festival, an annual event in the city's Mount Pleasant neighbourhood that aims to create accessible public art and encourage conversation about socio-cultural issues in the city.
Protesters say that's hypocritical, given that Low Tide has purchased a number of buildings that housed artists and art venues over the years.
"He basically comes in and buys our spaces, forces us out, and then raises the rent so high we can't rent them, even if we wanted to," Overland said.
At the beginning of Saturday's protest, Wilson took a moment to speak to the protesters, who livestreamed the interaction on Facebook.
To jeers from the assembled crowd, Wilson told them he had experienced similar frustrations in his youth.
"I didn't get here without making a lot of mistakes and having failed many times," Wilson said. "Many times I couldn't make rent because I didn't have a product that people actually wanted to buy."
In response, one of the protesters said he had no trouble paying the rent on his venue, but got renovicted anyway.
"I had a product that was extremely popular and was packed every single weekend and you still renovicted me," the man said.
The protesters claim Wilson's company has renovicted more than 18 different spaces in the last two years.
An open letter addressed to Low Tide has more than 100 signatures from artists and owners of art-related businesses.
After his disagreement with the protesters, Wilson walked away, turning around only to tell protesters: "Socialism will always fail."