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

Just Posted

Lines open for OSNS Share a Smile Telethon now underway

The 38th annual OSNS Child and Youth Development Centre telethon on

Counsellor sees need for treatment centre regulations

An addictions counsellor sees need for regulations

Biosphere designation boosts national park drive

Certification outlines conservation as key part of sustainable tourism development

Visiting Vees pound West Kelowna Warriors

The Vees got hat tricks from two players en route to an 11-3 win

‘Listen to your gut’ urges injured skier

Mike Shaw was told he’d never walk again after an accident four years ago, but he defied the odds

VIDEO: Rare comic showing Superman’s 1st appearance to be auctioned

The 1938 comic features Superman hoisting a car over his head

Boomer radio expands

Kelowna resident Allen Holender continues to expand his network

VIDEO: Rare comic showing Superman’s 1st appearance to be auctioned

The 1938 comic features Superman hoisting a car over his head

Biosphere designation boosts national park drive

Certification outlines conservation as key part of sustainable tourism development

Pine beetles from Jasper National Park moving into commercial forest

In 2014, beetle activity went from a few spots around Jasper’s townsite to rampant

VIDEO: Tragically Hip members, Alex Trebek receive Order of Canada

Newest recipients join 6,897 Canadians such as Christine Sinclair, Graham Greene and Mark Messier

AC/DC’s Malcolm Young dies at 64

‘Malcolm was a songwriter, guitarist, performer, producer and visionary who inspired many.’

‘I will now live in consistent fear’: Allan Schoenborn granted escorted leaves

The Merritt man was deemed not criminally responsible in the killing of his three children in 2008

Guns and drugs seized in Kamloops RCMP blitz

Kamloops Mounties and the gang unit seize drugs and make arrests in two-day blitz

Most Read