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

UPDATED: Dog found wandering in Langley headed to his Alberta family

The Langley Animal Protection Society and a kind truck driver are helping Frankie get home.

UPDATED: Byelection lawsuit cost Langley City $27,000

Last-place candidate Serena Oh failed to convince the Supreme Court to hear her case.

Michael Jackstien named Langley’s Good Citizen of the Year

The longtime volunteer organized the BC Summer Games and many other local events.

Province’s best young curlers compete in Langley

Langley Curling Centre is hosting the juniors from Dec. 18 to 23.

Langley’s Marley and Cratchit bring spirit of giving to life

Local accountants will act as characters from A Christmas Carol for a fundraiser.

VIDEO: New series takes in-depth look at sexual harassment in B.C.

Black Press takes a hard look at sexual harassment in B.C.

Police appeal for info after girl, 11, hit in New Westminster crosswalk

Child was left with non-life threatening injuries

Horgan says pot smokers may face same outdoor rules as cigarette smokers

B.C. is developing its rules on recreational marijuana

B.C. teacher suspended after explicit images projected to class

Jeffrey Rohin Muthanna had been viewing porn on a school laptop for two years

Man who pledged to give B.C. hockey team millions charged with fraud

Mike Gould has since repaid $8,000 he allegedly owed Cranbrook restaurant, owner says

Strong economy fuels housing sales in B.C.: report

Economist says demand for houses is being supported by a large number of millennials entering the market

Tequila, hammers and knives: what not to bring on an airplane

Vancouver International Airport staff provide tips on travelling during the holidays

More than 20,000 pounds of garbage removed from riverside homeless camps

Two camps taken down last week on the banks of the Fraser and Chilliwack rivers

New fighter-jet competition to have national ‘economic interest’ requirement

Trudeau government wants to replace Canada’s aging CF-18s with 88 new fighters by as early as 2025

Most Read