“We cannot allow Politics, Bureaucracy and a few people resorting to
Bullying tactics, to continue to keep us from our Humanity” – Richard Leblanc
Despite relentless bullying from opposers, the Creating Homefulness Society is moving forward with an application to rezone our property, to house the formerly homeless on this 193 acre transitional organic farm.
Our message is really very simple: help people turn their lives around…and grow fruits and vegetables.
After 18 months of piloting our farming and Therapeutic Program, we look forward to setting the stage to help many hundreds transform their lives.
We want to:
- for the first time in over 150 years, grow produce on one of Vancouver Island’s largest farms
- keep this farm in the Agricultural Land Reserve
- house and apprentice 96 participants (the # needed to develop the farming on this large property)
And here is the plan:
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY OF APPLICATION
OUR GOAL: We aim to admit 12 people at a time, eventually building over 5 years to a maximum on the farm of 96 apprentices. This will translate to over 500 lives changed over the course of 10 years. We are aiming for 96 apprentices in order to successfully farm this large an acreage in a high-labour (non-mechanized) fashion. Also, 96 people in a Therapeutic Community program is the optimum number from a socio-dynamic perspective, as has been shown in a multitude of studies.
WHAT OUR COMMUNITY NEEDS: In order to make this goal a reality we require zoning that will permit 96 people to be housed in dormitories, along with 24 staff members. Woodwynn Farms’ fundamental philosophy is directly in line with Central Saanich’s OCP as we strive to create a healthy, sustainable space that is in harmony with the natural environment. We are integrating environmental, economic, and social considerations into our proposal.
The District of Central Saanich’s Official Community Plan (OCP) identifies farming and the protection of farmland as extremely important to the community, and we agree. We have begun to grow organic vegetables on a farm that hasn’t grown vegetables in over 150 years. We are 20 months into piloting the 9-year conversion from cattle and hay, to mixed vegetables and fruit. The OCP lists locally produced food as one solution to mounting environmental problems such as climate change and we are ready to tackle this challenge head on. While our Therapeutic Community program for the homeless is developing our workforce, there is a parallel transformation and revitalization of the land and buildings. We intend to enhance the farmland in an economically feasible and environmentally sustainable way.
The OCP encourages the inclusion of social services and facilities, as well as supportive or transitional housing. This includes support for the creation of housing for special needs groups, such as the physically or mentally disabled, young people and others who have unique social needs. The OCP also states a desire to explore the need and opportunity for establishing long-term on-farm housing. We are proposing to build innovative and site-sensitive housing that will demonstrate energy efficiency in building performance, and demonstrate a sensitive response to the site and its context, as suggested by the OCP.
What We Need to Help our Community: The current Land Use Bylaw designates our land as A-1 Agricultural and permits us to expand the farming of local produce but does not allow us to have the on site facilities necessary to house the labour force that will grow this produce. It also does not allow us to expand a small sales area for these and other locally grown products. We would like an amendment to the Land Use Bylaw that would include provision for these uses while still protecting the rural atmosphere and agricultural land uses designated by the OCP. We don’t presume to have the expertise to suggest specific changes to the Land Use Bylaw but we would welcome the opportunity to either participate in an amendment to the A-1 Zone that would allow these uses or participate in the creation of a new Zone that would allow the uses and still protects the farm land status in accordance with the OCP and ALC requirements.