One of three elaborate tree forts that’s being built in the Red Deer woods for selected homeless people by Ryan Drummond. (Contributed photo).

One of three elaborate tree forts that’s being built in the Red Deer woods for selected homeless people by Ryan Drummond. (Contributed photo).

Red Deer man continues to build tree fort shelters for the homeless

Ryan Drummond says Red Deer needs more affordable housing

A Red Deer man is determined to keep building tree fort shelters to help homeless people get through the winter — even though this breaks City of Red Deer rules.

Ryan Drummond sent in photographic evidence of the elaborate shelters he’s continuing to build in more remote forested spots within city limits. But this time, he said, he’s making them even harder to find.

One of three forts he’s working on will be buried under dirt and branches once it’s finished: “Chances of anyone finding it are slim to none,” said Drummond, in an email to The Advocate.

He got in touch because he wants to focus more public attention on the plight of homeless people in the winter.

Drummond believes there isn’t enough affordable housing in Red Deer, so he intends to keep building basic, rustic shelters in treed areas around the city.

According to city officials, living in the woods is unnecessary and unsafe, and building in the park is inappropriate and contrary to bylaws.

City parks workers routinely take apart any camps or make-shift shelters they find in parks or woods, after first leaving a note to warn possible inhabitants to remove their belongings.

One of Drummond’s hidden forts was discovered last summer in the ravine below Parkland Mall and reported to the city, but he believes it’s still worth spending his nights building more.

Man builds forts for the homeless

The local businessman, who’s been homeless in the past, feels empathy with people who have no place to stay. He said he intends to eventually lead certain “respectful” people to the insulated forts so they have some winter shelter.

“I’m not putting up a place to do drugs or to drink.”

Drummond explained he’s using his own tools and donated supplies to build the forts because he’s heard some people fear staying at shelters, concerned about violence.

City officials strongly encourage people in need of housing to contact Safe Harbour and get their names added to a housing-first list.

But there were already 42-plus names on it at the end of August.

Safe Harbour’s executive director, Kath Hoffman, predicted a shortage of transitional housing in Red Deer will mean a lot of people will have to cope in shelters this winter, as they wait to get a more permanent roof over their heads.

According to Safe Harbour’s shelter services manager, 15 to 20 people are sleeping each night at the warming centre that has 20 mats available for those with no place to go.

The 26-bed mat program for those who are intoxicated or high, is also usually full, while an estimated 130 people use the daytime warming centre.

Also, The Mustard Seed runs a dry shelter in Red Deer with 11 beds for women and 35 for men.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


Just Posted

Red life-ring with splash
Started from the bottom: How a family business started and grew in central Alberta

By Carina Moran We started our business in the basement of our… Continue reading

Shiree Appleman
Innisfail RCMP looking for missing woman

Innisfail RCMP is asking the public to help locate a woman who… Continue reading

Rotary Club of Red Deer logo.
Red Deer Rotary Club hosting tree planting event later this month

The Rotary Club of Red Deer will host a tree-planting event later… Continue reading

New admissions have been suspended for Engineering Technology diplomas (Instrumentation, Electrical and Mechanical) and the Transitional Vocational Program at Red Deer College. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
Developmentally disabled impacted: Red Deer College suspends program

Transitional Vocational Program comes to an end

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw is asking Albertans to do their part by observing gathering limits, staying home if unwell, wearing masks and maintaining physical distance. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Three new Central zone COVID-19 deaths, Alberta adds 1,433 cases

Red Deer down to 802 active cases of COVID-19

Bo’s Bar and Grill owner Brennen Wowk said the hospitality industry is looking for more clarity from the province around what conditions must be met to allow for restaurants reopening. (Advocate file photo)
Frustated restaurant owners want to know government’s reopening plan

Restaurant owners feel they are in lockdown limbo

Welcoming cowboy boots at the historic and colourful Last Chance Saloon in the ghost town of Wayne near Drumheller, Alta., on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019. The bar and hotel are up for sale. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘It was a going concern’: Remaining bar and hotel in Alberta coal ghost town for sale

WAYNE, Alta. — Built during the First World War, it survived the… Continue reading

A letter from a bottle that washed up in New Brunswick in 2017 is shown in an undated handout photo. A team of researchers from Université du Québec à Rimouski are trying to solve the mystery of whether a letter in a bottle that washed up in New Brunswick in 2017 was indeed from a young victim of Titanic shipwreck or simply a hoax. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, N. Beaudry, UQAR *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Real or hoax? Quebec scholars probe mystery letter allegedly from Titanic passenger

MONTREAL — Researchers from Université du Québec à Rimouski are trying to… Continue reading

Minister of Transport Marc Garneau takes part in a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019. Advocates, experts and opposition MPs say correspondence showing close communication between the federal Transport Department and the Canadian Transportation Agency regarding passenger refunds throws into question the independence of the CTA, an arm’s-length body. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Emails reveal close communication between government, transport regulator on refunds

OTTAWA — Advocates, experts and opposition MPs say correspondence showing close communication… Continue reading

Pharmacist Barbara Violo shows off a vial of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Toronto on Friday, March 12, 2021. Several family doctors and physician associations across Canada say they welcome questions from anyone concerned about second doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca or any other COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Family doctors say they can answer vaccine questions, after Trudeau recommends them

Several family doctors and physician associations across Canada say they welcome questions… Continue reading

The Olympic rings float in the water at sunset in the Odaiba section of Tokyo, Wednesday, June 3, 2020. A new Leger poll suggests Canadians are divided over plans to send athletes from Canada to the upcoming Olympic games in Tokyo as Japan grapples with climbing COVID-19 cases. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Eugene Hoshiko
Canadians divided on sending Team Canada athletes to the Tokyo Olympic Games: poll

OTTAWA — A new poll by Leger and the Association of Canadian… Continue reading

Harley Hay
Harley Hay: Insert your name here

Back in the Paleolithic Era when a McDonald’s cheeseburger was 29 cents… Continue reading

Black Press file photo
Job search: Write a request that will get accepted

Last Thursday, when I logged into LinkedIn, I had nine connection requests… Continue reading

T-shirt with vaccine shot. (Contributed photo)
Letter: Hand out T-shirts with vaccine shots

I made myself a graphic T-shirt recently after getting my vaccine shot.… Continue reading

Most Read