Homefulness project to proceed with tents on Woodwynn Farms

Agricultural Land Commission rejects proposal to turn buildings into housing for Victoria's homeless community

Within weeks, Richard Leblanc of Woodwynn Farms will begin recruiting people from Victoria’s homeless community to start a new chapter in their life, working on an organic farm and sleeping in tents on his farm in Central Saanich.

Campsites are a far cry from the housing he hoped to build, but Leblanc calls it an interim step in his Creating Homefulness Society’s vision.

Two weeks ago, the Agricultural Land Commission rejected the society’s application to build housing for 120 people on the farm on one per cent of the land.

According to its decision, released April 21, the commission does not believe housing needs to be located within the Agricultural Land Reserve, given the proximity of land outside the reserve.

“The commission is approached by similar organizations with varying degrees of agriculture as part of their programming on a regular basis and is very wary of permitting this type of institutional use within the ALR,” the decision reads.

On Tuesday night, the Creating Homefulness Society board met to regroup.

“This is a major disappointment,” said Leblanc, the society’s executive director. The board, however, is “undaunted,” he said.

The farm is zoned for approximately 10 campsites. That means Leblanc can still create a community on the farm – it just won’t be as comfortable.

“We’re going to bring on some Porta-Pottys and a fire pit,” he said.

Eventually, Leblanc plans to resubmit a new application to the commission.

As well as housing, his proposal included repurposing 16 structures on the farm into a processing plant to make jams and jellies, a café and office rooms.

The society’s goal is to diversify the farms’ products to decrease its dependence on government grants and to teach a variety of skills, including farming, service and administrative.

The board’s change in course also has repercussions for Leblanc himself.

For the past 80 nights, Leblanc has slept in a van downtown as part of his campaign. He’d committed to living this way until 2,012 people wrote letters of support and the same number donated 99 cents a day to the cause.

“It’s forcing me to shift gears,” he said. “If we’re having far more activity on the land, then I need to shift my attentions and energies and time back to Woodwynn.”

While looking forward to returning to a warm, soft bed and a shower, Leblanc said, “I’m disappointed that we didn’t bring it to the end we originally hoped.”

At the same time, he said, dialogue in the community about Woodwynn “went through the roof.”

rholmen@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Two dogs rescued from Colwood house fire

Black Labrador retriever rescued and revived by West Shore crews

UVic partners with harm reduction groups to run a drug checking pilot project

The three-year pilot will allow people to test their drugs for fatal ingredients like fentanyl

Public asked to give feedback on proposed protection measures for southern resident orcas

Measures focus on key threats related to contaminants, lack of prey, noise or physical disturbance

Highway 1 just south of Malahat Drive to see lane expansion

Langford stretch between Leigh Road and Westshore Parkway will see additional lane and median

Province announces more improvements for Highway 14

$85-million project made possible through federal funding support

What’s age got to do with it? B.C. couple with 45-year gap talks happy marriage

An Armstrong couple that has 45-year age gap began turning heads after being featured on show Extreme Love.

Wanted by Crime Stoppers

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you think the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris should be rebuilt?

Images of one of the word’s most iconic landmarks were seared into… Continue reading

B.C. men challenge constitutionality of Canada’s secret no-fly list

Parvkar Singh Dulai says he received a “denial of boarding” notification under the no-fly program last May 17

Murder on B.C. property didn’t need to be disclosed before sale, court rules

Buyer had tried to break contract after learning a man with ties to crime had been murdered there

B.C.’s largest Vaisakhi festival target of threatening Facebook post: Surrey RCMP

Police say they are investigating the posts on Facebook, after local MLA forwarded screenshots

Pug life: B.C. town boasts waggish list of dog names

Freedom-of-information request lists most ‘pupular’ dog names registered in White Rock

VIDEO: Duncan-Nanaimo’s Funkanometry bow out of ‘World of Dance’ with ‘After Hours’ routine

Judges praised them as entertainers, and urged them to work a bit more on their dancing

Most Read