As Maple Ridge awaits a court ruling on enforcing fire regulations at Anita Place Tent City, Ivan Drury awaits his own date in court, facing a charge of break and enter with intent to commit an offence.
The charge stems from an incident Oct. 5 in Nanaimo, where protesters occupied the empty Rutherford elementary in what was called the ‘Schoolhouse Squa’t and followed the dispersal of Discontent City camp in Nanaimo.
“Rather than just take another empty lot where people would live outside in the same dangerous conditions … we decided to try to improve the living conditions of homeless people and end homelessness by using an abandoned public property,” Drury, with the Alliance Against Displacement, said last week.
The school had been closed last spring and needed extensive repairs, he added.
Drury, a frequent commenter on Maple Ridge’s tent city, plans on fighting the charge and will plead not guilty.
Drury said a more usual charge in such cases is trespassing or mischief.
A resident of the Anita Place Tent City, Dwayne Allen Martin, along with another member of the Alliance, David Allen Diewert, are facing the same charge.
Drury took issue with media coverage of the event and said the school was not trashed inside by the demonstrators. Desks were moved, a sleeping space created and the kitchen was used, although someone did write some graffiti on the wall, Drury said.
He added that 26 people were originally charged, but said that charges were dropped for those who signed non-association orders.
All three, and another Nanaimo resident next appear in Nanaimo provincial court on Feb. 19.
Meanwhile, Drury also is awaiting the decision from B.C. Supreme Court on Maple Ridge’s application to get a court order to enforce fire safety regulations.
Maple Ridge is seeking the order to enforce fire safety regulations, allowing it to remove hazardous materials from tent city, as well as inspect the inside of tents, with 24-hours notice.
It’s also seeking another order compelling people to show their identification and if they don’t have any, agree to be photographed and give their names.
Otherwise, residents could be kicked out of the tent city, with police able to arrest those who are not complying.
The city’s application also says that only those seeking to be housed must provide identification.
Only at the end of the application does the city add that those who don’t want to be housed should be banned from the camp.
Drury said, if granted, police would have the power to arrest anyone who’s not cooperating with the order.