NDP leader John Horgan is peppered with demands by tent camp promoter Ivan Drury during visit to Maple Ridge May 4. (MICHAEL HALL/BLACK PRESS)

Standing up to staged tent squatters

Communities fight back against ‘travelling circus’ for media

Two B.C. municipalities were in court last week, trying to get injunctions against new tent camps that are trying to get established in their communities.

One is on a city-owned vacant lot on Main Street in Vancouver. Another is next to the highway bypass in Maple Ridge, an area plagued by transient camps in the past.

Contrary to the impression left by careless and conflict-happy media reports, these camps are not spontaneous, or the result of harsh economic conditions and cruel government policies. They are staged and funded by an outfit that currently calls itself the Alliance Against Displacement.

The Vancouver squat is also being supported by the Pivot Legal Society, a long-time supporter and apologist of anarchist and anti-police mayhem that despoils public and private property. Alliance social media posts show campers at the Main Street camp shouting the usual demands for more free stuff, in front of a banner that says “F— the Vancouver Police!” and “Homes Now!”

The front man for Alliance Against Displacement calls himself Ivan Drury. He’s been at this for a while. It was Drury who organized a busload of thugs last summer to come from Vancouver and invade Victoria’s notorious downtown “tent city,” when it was already overflowing with more than 100 mostly out-of-town drug users, gangsters and street tourists.

He’s no slouch as an organizer. The Victoria tour was timed to coincide with a visit from federal Communities Minister Amarjeet Sohi, who met with B.C. Housing Minister Rich Coleman at a Victoria hotel.

Drury led his posse from the tent squat to the hotel, where they shouted their demands for hundreds of thousands of housing units to be funded by hard-working taxpayers, then staged an assault on the door to force their way in. TV ate it up, as designed, with no effort to explain what was really going on.

Fast-forward to the recent B.C. election campaign. Drury picked a site in Maple Ridge, brought in his occupying force of drifters, junkies and career protesters and supplied them with tents. Then he led a delegation of ne’er-do-wells to crash a campaign event for NDP leader John Horgan, demanding that Horgan visit the camp he had just conjured up.

[WATCH: news report with video on Horgan visit]

Horgan played along, apparently willing to capitalize on a scene that could be made to reflect badly on the governing B.C. Liberals in a region with two closely contested seats. At least Horgan was cautious enough not to make any commitments to this self-appointed “activist,” as these guys are invariably described.

When the RCMP and Maple Ridge bylaw enforcement officers moved in last week to clear the tents, Drury grabbed them off the truck and threw them back on the ground, where the squatters dragged the tents back to the camp, while spewing profanities at the police.

I tip my cap to Maple Ridge acting mayor Tyler Shymkiw, who has struggled along with the rest of council to provide shelters and “low-barrier” housing to a seemingly endless stream of transients looking for a free ride.

“This politically designed camp by people from outside our community was set up for the media,” Shymkiw told the the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News. “It’s not a response to the true need of the local population.

“This travelling circus is dangerous to those both inside and near it – we’re going to move Heaven and Earth to shut it down before anyone gets hurt.”

If only there was a politician at the provincial level who had the guts to say it like it is.

Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press. Email: tfletcher@blackpress.ca Twitter: @tomfletcherbc

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Funds raised through off-road cycling event will help improve Central Saanich bike trails

Tripleshot Cycling Club presents $3,000 cheque to Nature Trails Society

B.C. Green Party interim leader to visit Wet’suwet’en camps

MLA Adam Olsen stands behind First Nations

Keating Elementry receiving earthquake upgrades

Seismic upgrades help better protect students in the event of an earthquake.

Kids across Canada more at risk of hospitalization from flu this season: doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam said influenza B does not usually peak until February or later

B.C. offers $5 million equipment loan program to help ailing forest contractors

Local politicians in Port McNeill and Campbell River says local economies are struggling

Vancouver Island distillery wins award for best Canadian rye whisky

Shelter Point cleans up at Canadian Whisky Awards

SOOKE HISTORY: Remembering Salvatore (Sam) Pasta

Salvatore (Sam) Pasta lived life to the fullest

Clerk bruised, traumatized after armed robbery at Nanaimo liquor store

Few details on male suspect in Wednesday incident, says Nanaimo RCMP

Crown won’t appeal sentence in child sex assault case of former Burns Lake mayor

B.C. Prosecution Service said sentence doesn’t meet standard for appeal

One last blast of winter tonight for parts of the Island before temperatures on the rise

A snowfall warning is in effect Friday including east Vancouver Island.

‘Scariest boat ride of my life’: Passengers trapped by ice on rocky B.C. ferry sailing

The Nimpkish docked in Bella Coola on Jan.12 coated in a thick layer of ice

Canada to give $25,000 to families of each Canadian who died in Iran plane crash

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also made it clear that Canada still expects Iran to compensate victims

Most Read