As tensions heat up over demovictions in Burnaby, a protest occupation at a political candidate’s campaign office by anti-demoviction activists has left staff seriously shaken.
As part of the Burnaby Citizen’s Association, NDP candidate and Burnaby councillor Anne Kang have supported the ongoing development around Metrotown.
To some, this development is seen as the reason for the growing number of demovictions in the city and the rise in homelessness that has gone with it.
Her position seems to put her at odds with the NDP, which is campaigning on solving the housing affordability crisis and homelessness in B.C.
Sara Sagaii from the Stop Demovictions Burnaby Campaign says her group occupied the office Tuesday because the NDP has been “strategically silent” about demovictions in Metrotown.
“The BCA, an affiliate of the NDP, is pushing this Metrotown Downtown Plan which is a big deal for them and nobody in the NDP wants to speak against that.”
As to why the NDP is keeping quiet, Sagaii thinks it’s a calculated move.
“First of all they don’t want to have any inner-party conflict by speaking against their own affiliates, so they don’t want that issue to be brought up at all… They’re happy to talk about issues in Coquitlam or other municipalities that has [sic] nothing to do with the NDP so they can point fingers at other parties.”
However, the activists’ points were lost due to their actions, according to Kang’s campaign manager Roseanne Moran.
Moran says office volunteers were scared when members of the activist group occupied their office.
“I would say that today was about pushing very aggressively into an office full of people who were trying to do some work to support the democratic process and that just wasn’t allowed to go on and people were really afraid.”
Speaking just after the activists left, she said what she experienced did not feel like a conversation about policy.
“[It was just] scaring people and not dialogue at all… Just kind of talking over, drumming, pushing. There may be charges filed.”
The activists left shortly after police arrived.
“What I want to do is build more supply.”
On Wednesday, B.C. NDP leader John Horgan countered the activists’ complaints that the party is turning a blind eye to Kang’s record.
Horgan says whatever the claims, it’s not the case.
“Not at all… The province of British Columbia is responsible for building housing, not cities. Cities do land use planning, and I’ll leave that to them. What I want to do is build more supply.”
The activists claimed the party would criticize demovictions in other ridings, but not in the hotly contested Burnaby region.