Alleged extremists claim responsibility for house fire
CTV British Columbia
Published Wednesday, May 15, 2013 9:15PM PDT
Alleged anti-gentrification extremists have claimed responsibility for a house fire in East Vancouver, calling the project a “yuppie development” in an unverified email sent to CTV News.
The suspicious fire broke out early Wednesday morning at a new home under construction at Victoria Drive and 1st Avenue, destroying the structure and damaging a neighbouring property.
No one was at home when the blaze broke out, but police believe it was deliberately set and confirm that arson experts are investigating.
There are no suspects yet, but an unverified message sent to CTV News and posted on an online anarchist forum points to anti-gentrification crusaders.
“Last night we burned down a yuppie development,” it reads. “The class war is heating up. We have no intention on stopping.”
The message reads like a call-to-arms for East Side residents, warning them that rents will rise and they will be pushed out of their homes if nothing is done.
“We are tired of seeing our lives and memories being torn down one development at a time. We wish and will create fear for developers.”
The developer of the property, Paul Dhaliwal, said he doesn’t know of anyone in the neighbourhood who’s unhappy with his project, and he didn’t received any threats before the fire was allegedly set.
But that changed Wednesday morning when an unsettling spray-painted message reading “We’ll be back” was discovered at a portable toilet at the back of the property.
“It delays everything. I guess that’s the main objective, just to stop everything from moving,” Dhaliwal said. “They don’t want to see change.”
Vancouver police have received a copy of the email and are trying to track down the author.
For now, Const. Brian Montague said it’s unclear whether the fire is connected to recent gentrification protests in the Downtown Eastside.
“It’s too early to tell whether this is linked to any specific group or organization,” Montague said.
In recent weeks, alleged anti-development activists have tried to chain the doors of Pidgin restaurant, stolen a sandwich board from Save On Meats, and smashed the windows of a Commercial Drive pizzeria three times.
With a report from CTV British Columbia’s Lisa Rossington