Violence Against Homeless and Mayor in Maple Ridge

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Violence Against Homeless and Mayor in Maple Ridge

I originally hosted this under "Gentrification in Metro Vancouver" but, considering the level of threats and violence involved, have decided this is a misclassification of extremely important problem. 

In Maple Ridge, a temporary homeless shelter has been closed and shelter residents have been "hit with pipes, run off the roads with their bicycles. Smoke bombs thrown into the shelter to flush people out" with a vigilante group play a role in fostering thisThe shelter manager fears for her safetyThe Mayor went into hiding when informed of threats against her because of her support for the shelter. CBC's The Current podcast url below in addition to its written report provides more information on this horrific situation.

The podcast at the url at the url at the bottom of the post mentions Ivan Drury, an activist from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, who has helped organize a tent city in response to the closing the shelter but also faces intimidation himself. The city has now started legal action to seek an injunction to remove the tent city. Drury notes that their are 70 tent cities across BC because of the housing crisis now. 

Why haven't the police arrested anyone when threats and physical intimidation against the shelter resident, the shelter manager and the mayor have become the new normal in Maple Ridge?

I think its time to start organizing and publicizing across the province and Canada against what is happening in Maple Ridge, because if the vigilante types get away with this, it will almost certainly spread elsewhere.


Last month, Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read went into hiding after the RCMP warned her there was a credible threat to her safety. They have not disclosed whether the threat is related to this issue, but the mayor has been the target of anger from Maple Ridge residents who take issue with her support of the homeless in her community. 

The closing of a temporary homeless shelter in Maple Ridge, B.C., has heated up a contentious debate over how to address homelessness and addiction in the community. The shelter was set up in an old mattress store as a stop-gap measure while the municipal and provincial governments tried to come up with a longer term solution.  The shelter manager says the conditions are not adequate.

'I don't know how people can turn their backs on the most vulnerable members of their own community.'- Ash, shelter manager

"You can see the walls don't go to the ceiling. There's not really anywhere to have deep conversation. There's nowhere to call your dad. Or to cry. Let your guard down," says Ash, the shelter's manager. Every day. It's awful. I wouldn't do it, I couldn't do it. It's terrible." 

Ash — whose last name we have agreed to withhold because he fears for his safety — says that residents of the shelter have been attacked. "Cars have been keyed. People hit with pipes, run off the roads with their bicycles. Smoke bombs thrown into the shelter to flush people out," he says. I think it's been disgusting. I don't know how people can turn their backs on the most vulnerable members of their own community."  

But other residents of Maple Ridge say they are fed up with the drug use they associate with shelters like these.  Ramona Stimpfl's condominium is located between the homeless shelter and a tent city that sprang up last month in a nearby city park. "Every day we are cleaning up needles, drug packets," she points out. 

Maple Ridge is a community of more than 75,000 people about an hour's drive east of Vancouver. The numbers of homeless is increasing across Metro Vancouver. A recent count showed a 30 per cent increase over the numbers in 2014. The problem is complicated by the high cost of housing, lack of addiction treatment spaces and treatment for the mentally ill, not to mention the opioid crisis that has gripped the region.

Eva Bardonnex is one of the people living in a tent city.  She first found herself homeless in January 2015. When the house she was living in was sold, she had nowhere to go and ended up living at the river.  She found housing after living at another tent city camp in Maple Ridge, but was kicked out two months ago after being accused of having too many visitors and not going to counselling.  Bardonnex is homeless once again, but she says the tent city is better than living at the river. 

"At the end of the day we don't go to the community and ask if we locate a cancer facility in their backyard. They need housing and health-care supports.  As a human being, I've never backed away from these issues — may not be politically expedient. At the end of the day, I have to put my head on the pillow instead of being concerned about being re-elected.  At the end of the day we don't go to the community and ask if we locate a cancer facility in their backyard. They need housing and health-care supports," says the Mayor Nicole Read.


The threats against the Mayor have been serious enough to warrant her miss public meetings and to obtain police protection. Two videos below discuss the threats as well as the Liberal provincial government's failure to not only provide housing for the homeless around the province, but also the mental health and addiction problems that many of the homeless have. 

The District of Maple Ridge says RCMP officers are now investigating threats and online harassment towards its mayor.

Nicole Read has stopped making public appearances after a credible personal threat was made to her safety.

Read missed the last two council meetings and had a police escort to one of the meetings in April.

RCMP said they cannot discuss the specifics of the case but did confirm no charges have been laid as of yet.

Councillors say Read has previously faced criticism over her stance on advocating for homeless shelters in the city.

A statement from the City of Maple Ridge says Read hopes to get back to her duties soon and that is has been a very difficult time for the mayor and her family.



The extent of the threats against the homeless and advocates is outlined in the article below.

Before he spoke at the homeless rally and march at city hall on Saturday, one of the organizers was warned by police that they were aware of several threats made against him.

“All of us have been threatened,” said Stephen Milner. He said people who support the homeless in Maple Ridge say they are generally targeted for online harassment and threats. ...

An RCMP spokesperson confirmed that police do monitor social media, on several pages, for threats to public safety. They would not discuss specific threats. 

Milner said the credibility of the threats could not be confirmed. He was sent a Facebook instant message with a photo of his house and the message: “You have a nice car and house, and a nice family. You should be careful what you say.” A meme was created that said, “RIP Stephen Milner. Hope you enjoyed your 15 minutes of fame.” “This sort of thing gets scary,” he said.

He added the threats come from anonymous sources or fake social media accounts, and are tough to trace. He has made police aware of some, like a person on the Concerned Citizens of Maple Ridge Facebook page, who threatened violence against camp organizer Ivan Drury, and to drive his 4×4 through the camp. ...

There are numerous social media websites that contain threatening or demeaning messages about the city’s homeless, said Milner.

“It’s the type of intimidation and threats you expect to see in moves about the civil rights movement in the U.S. during the 1960s,” he added.  ...

Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read returned to work this past week after a five-week absence following online threats and harassment. She was at Red Robin having dinner with her family a while back when she saw a social media post on her phone, by someone saying they where there in the same restaurant as her. “Go up and slap that ho,” came a response. Read has dealt with this kind of thing for more than two years.  There have been sites set up to denigrade her.  She said it is not simple online harassment relating to the homeless issue that caused her to miss some five weeks of work, but a credible threat.


Read plans to make a statement about her absence it the coming week.

“It’s not how Canadians should be,” said Milner. “This whole issue has turned Maple Ridge into a Trumpian Utopia.”


Enflaming the threats of violence is the coverage given by some of the local media, an example of which is given below.

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. ...

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.

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.



The homeless and their supporters are fighting back.

Housed and homeless Maple Ridge residents marching together for housing and against hate

On Thursday May 11th the City of Maple Ridge staged an extra-legal attack on Anita Place Tent City. Bylaw officers backed by the RCMP sacked the camp, stealing about 10 tents unoccupied at the time they arrived, ripping down tarps, destroying the common kitchen and office area, and seizing the fence that secured the edge of the property against outside threats. They seem to have been deployed by acting Mayor Tyler Shimkw, who took the place of Mayor Read when she went into hiding because of violent threats from Ridgeilantes (Maple Ridge vigilantes) who hate homeless people and resent her support of the low-barrier shelter in town. After the bylaw assault on the camp, Shimkw, waving homeless people as a political flag towards the Ridgeilante crowd, declared that he would “move heaven and earth” to displace the camp.

In response, two days later a group of housed Maple Ridge residents organized through a Facebook page called “Support Anita Place Maple Ridge” held a rally to defend the tent city against City attacks and Ridgeilante hate. About 40 people, residents of the camp and the Rain City homeless shelter and their housed supporters, gathered outside City Hall to call for the City to protect homeless people and the camp, not to break it up. This small demonstration represents a historic change in the politics of Maple Ridge – it is the first time that housed Maple Ridge residents have organized a protest alongside homeless people, that they have united in public against Ridgilante threats of violence.

This rally shows that Anita Place tent city is forging a new politics in Maple Ridge: one where low-income people refuse to apologize for their existence, where they take up space as one group of residents among many, where hate is fought and opposed rather than navigated and accommodated. Around Anita Place tent city, low-income and working class people are gathering and rejecting the politics of hate and division fostered by the BC Liberal MLAs who would have working class people blame the visibly poor for their own insecurity. At Anita Place we are beginning to name and fight poverty and housing insecurity as a problem of capitalism, colonialism, and government austerity, not “addiction” or individual mistakes.

For years, low-income people in Maple Ridge have been abused by twin terrors – a government that has denied them basic services and left them vulnerable to violence on the street, and Ridgeilantes, a revanchist poor-bashing section of the public that is best described as an informal hate group. During the first two weeks of Anita Place tent city, as the Maple Ridge street population has fought back against abuse, these abusers have raged and lashed out. Against our rally protesting the City Bylaw attack, a group of anti-homeless bigots held a counter-protest at the fringes of our rally. About of dozen of them, uniformly dressed with low hats and sunglasses, sneered and whistled at our rally and shouted occasional insults at speakers. We, nevertheless, stood together, spoke out, and marched, filling the streets of Maple Ridge with calls for homes not hate.


alan smithee alan smithee's picture

And the meek shall inherent the Earth.  But I'm still waiting.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

And the meek shall inherent the Earth.  But I'm still waiting.

Technically, you're waiting for "the Rapture".


A divided city council over the building of a homeless is reflected in different councillors alliances with the NDP and Liberal parties, as well as a mayor absent from council due to death threats, in addition to threats against the homeless. A sad commentary on the community. 

Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read returned to work, then she didn’t. She was absent from council for five weeks following a threat against her that RCMP are investigating. She returned to work last week, then missed a meeting Tuesday. She is still not comfortable chairing a meeting in council chambers and said the city is developing a safety and security plan. ...

Meanwhile, Coun. Tyler Shymkiw acts as mayor at meetings. Shymkiw initially announced he would run for mayor in 2014, then bowed out when Read entered the race and decided to just run for council. ...

As acting mayor the other week, Shymkiw vowed to “move heaven and earth” to shut down the homeless camp at the end of 223rd Street, by the Haney Bypass. It’s still there.

The city was seeking an injunction, but that could be in jeopardy as a judge denied one by the City of Vancouver for a camp there, supported by the same group.

Now that Bob D’Eith has officially been elected MLA in Maple Ridge-Mission, he plans, along with NDP counterpart in Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows, Lisa Beare, to meet with council as soon as possible to discuss the issue of homelessness.

He also plans to take into account the recommendations of a Liberal-appointed citizen’s committee on a location for a supportive housing and homeless shelter facility. But how will that fit with our current council?

Read previously sparred with the former Liberal MLAs over a location for the proposed $15 million facility. With the mayor away, council sought an injunction to remove the current homeless camp.

Read is concerned what would happen if Maple Ridge’s injunction is also defeated.

Would the camp then have a legal right to stay, with the temporary shelter about to close?

It’s not known when Read will return to meetings.

Shymkiw leads in her absence, but said Read is still actively the spokesperson for council.


Read was present at the local NDP campaign office on election night, along with Couns. Craig Speirs and Kiersten Duncan.

Couns. Gordy Robson and Bob Masse, meanwhile, stood beside each other and greeted Liberal leader Christy Clark at the Ridge Meadows Home Show two days before the election. Also, Shymkiw walked out of a meeting when Read forced a vote to spend $195,000 to hire two social planners to deal with homelessness, when Masse was absent on vacation. Then council sought the injunction while she was away.

What we have is a divided council, minus at least one member, making decisions, left and right, depending on who’s present. In the end, nothing regarding homelessness is getting done.



During the provincial election, Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read, who received death threats over her support for a Maple Ridge homeless shelter, was linked to NDP candidate Lisa Beare by having hateful flyers showing half her face and half of Mayor Read's face blended because of the homeless issue. The good news is Lisa Beare won in the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows riding. 

Hundreds of flyers have surfaced, and this time includes a New Democratic Party candidate for Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows.

The anonymous flyers distributed early this week show half of NDP candidate Lisa Beare’s and half of Mayor Nicole Read’s faces… along with what’s being reported as some hateful messages.

Beare says, the handouts bothered her but they’re not going to stop her from continuing a positive campaign.

“I’m not going to let it slow me down, in fact it’s inspiring me to work even harder,” says Beare, who adds she’s received support from members of her community.

“You know this isn’t reflective of the values of people in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, and I’m really grateful for everyone that’s reached out to me and offered me support regardless of political stripe.”

Beare hasn’t spoken with police about the flyers but says they have been reported to Elections BC.

“They’re just full of lies, and full of falsehoods… which is very unfortunate,” says Beare.

“It’s a very volatile situation in our community right now. Our mayor is currently under RCMP watch, it’s very serious and disturbing… but I’m focusing on my campaign, and focusing on staying positive and we’re working harder than ever.”



The closure of a low barrier shelter for the homeless in Maple Ridge on May 31st has meant that the homeless have only a tent encampment, which is under legal threat by the city, left for shelter. Hatred and threats have not stopped.

The lack of a Liberal provincial government plan to address homelessness has left municipalities scrambling to provide some form of help. With the government now in caretaker mode until the legislature meets, nothing at all has been done to address the problem in Maple Ridge or elswhere.

Now, after a year of living in a low-barrier shelter run by Raincity Housing, Copperthwaite, 56, is staying in a tent in a city-owned lot off the Lougheed Highway in Maple Ridge. “I would like to see them build some affordable housing,” Copperthwaite said of her hopes for the future. “Just regular housing where people could go and live. There’s nothing here, and this town is so full of people who are haters of the homeless and people who are down and out.”

After years of hard-fought community efforts against efforts to build two provincially-funded low barrier shelters in the community, residents of a tent encampment in Maple Ridge have literally nowhere else to go, said DJ Larkin, a lawyer with Pivot Legal.  ...

A low-barrier shelter operated by Raincity Housing closed on May 31 after funding from BC Housing came to an end. (Low barrier means that people are not required to “meet certain standards of behaviour, or are compliant with mental health or addiction treatment plans,” according to Raincity Housing’s website.) Thirteen people who stayed up until that date have either found other shelter, or have chosen to camp outside, said Raincity in an email, while the organization continues to work with 38 former shelter residents to find permanent housing. ...

The city of Maple Ridge has gone to court to seek an injunction to remove the tent city, which it wants to turn into a city park. Pivot Legal has been speaking with tent city residents about the upcoming court case. ...

Larkin said homeless people in Maple Ridge “have received threats, have faced violence, have had things thrown at them.” ...

Metro did not receive a response to interview requests to the City of Maple Ridge or the mayor, Nicole Read. But at a Feb. 27 press conference prior to Metro Vancouver’s homeless count, Read — who recently received death threats that are now being investigated by police — expressed frustration with senior levels of government.

“We have no plan here in the province of British Columbia to address homelessness,” Read said, “and local governments are scrambling to do their best with no resources, no funding to be able to deal with the citizens on their streets who need care and need attention and need places to live.”



On June 5th, the BC Supreme Court has delayed Maple Ridge's application to remove the temporary homeless camp until a hearing on June 20th, even though the city argue it should be shut down immediately. Justice Kent said he did not see the urgency required to deny the homeless their rights. The article below also discusses the threats against the Mayor and the homeless. 

But Justice Kent said the homeless camp – just the latest front in the battle that has embroiled Maple Ridge for over two years – wasn’t so urgent the campers should be denied legal rights. “What difference does one week make? The tent city in Victoria was there for how long? Is two weeks really going to make that much difference?” Justice Kent said. “Unless you’re telling me world war three is about to start, or another conflagration, then…”

The intense debate in Maple Ridge has seen attacks on the homeless camp residents, as well as threats that drove Maple Ridge’s mayor Nicole Read into hiding. She returned to work at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities meeting in Ottawa Monday.

“There’s a minority of hateful people who post online,” Read told CTV News. “It’s been difficult. When I signed up to take on this role I didn’t think I’d have to deal with a credible threat against my safety.” ...

As for the future of the homeless camp, she said the Liberal government had proposed two solutions, including converting a Quality Inn to a shelter space. But both were rejected by local MLAs. That put the city back to square one, she said.

“It’s 100 per cent the disalignment with the provincial government,” she said. “From day one we’ve been supportive of bringing housing into the city. We’re looking forward to the ideas that will be brought to the table by whatever new government is formed.”

A tent city neighbour told CTV News that he thought the campers had been very orderly – but he had seen people drive by shouting hateful and threatening things.

“Yelling, screaming, throwing rocks,” said John Bullock.

Camp resident Tana Copperthwaite said she’d personally been on the receiving end.

“The rich and the poor get divided and anyone homeless gets picked off. People that wouldn’t talk to us go out of their way to be aggressive and hateful,” she said.

Another camp resident, Brad Frayne, told CTV news that the residents have helped him deal with the results of a stroke he had last year that paralyzed his right side. The 58-year-old uses one leg to push a wheelchair up the street near the camp. But he needs help getting in and out of the tents.



The decision of the Maple Ridge's decision to not pursue using the court system to remove the homeless from the city has been strongly influenced by the expected change from  a BC Liberal to NDP government.

The City of Maple Ridge has decided to back down from legal action against homeless campers in favour of focusing on working with the province on a permanent “housing and health care strategy.” The city had applied for a court injunction to remove the tent city, known as Anita’s Place, which has operated since May 2. But Maple Ridge has now asked for the injunction hearing to be adjourned until June 28 so it can review a large number of affidavits from residents of the camp.

“The affidavits really captured the stories of homelessness, they exposed the ugly face of what homelessness is,” said Ivan Drury, an activist who has been supporting Anita’s Place. It has that visceral component of the danger from bigots in Maple Ridge and all of the components of being exposed to the weather and having no security and the compounded health factors.”

Pivot Legal and two other lawyers working pro bono assisted the residents to prepare their legal material. DJ Larkin, a lawyer with Pivot, previously told Metro that homeless people in Maple Ridge “have received threats, have faced violence, have had things thrown at them.”

While the city had put together a plan for two low-barrier homeless shelters, it was later dropped by two B.C. Liberal MLAs after strong opposition from Maple Ridge residents. The city’s only low-barrier shelter closed in mid-May after its provincial funding ended, and some people who had been living in that shelter moved to the tent city, saying it was their only remaining option.

The City of Maple Ridge says it will now provide toilets to the camp, while working with the province and Fraser Health on housing and health care “that will make the camp unnecessary.”