Richard Leblanc, seen here on the farm in September, is disappointed in the ALC’s decision. (Hugo Wong/News Staff)

Another setback for Woodwynn Farms

Proposal to house up to 40 people denied by ALC

The Creating Homefulness Society, which owns Woodwynn Farms, experienced another setback this weekend in their plans to turn the 193-acre property into a farm operated by people recovering from addiction.

The Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) has denied an application to allow two acres of land in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) to house and feed up to 40 people. A key aspect of the Society’s proposal required residents to live and work in the same place.

Richard Leblanc, the founder and executive director of the Society, wrote in an email that “as the founder of this project, I cannot quite articulate my oh-so-deep level of disappointment.

“While our Board of Directors and our core funders are somewhat at their wits end, my own resolve is only temporarily shaken.”

This latest application, which was forwarded to the ALC from Central Saanich in March of 2017, is a followup to a 2011 application from Leblanc which included plans for a dormitory and a mess hall. It was also denied at the time.

In their 2012 decision, the ALC stated that it believed “while the Commission has compassion for the issue at hand, it does not believe that the construction of facilities for the housing and programming needs of the programs participants needs to be located within the ALR.” It recommended that nearby non-ALR land be considered instead.

The latest proposal called for ‘tiny homes’ or trailers which could be dismantled if necessary, and washrooms and kitchen facilities in a “small modular building on a temporary foundation.”

The decision, dated Nov. 9, 2017 and signed by Frank Leonard, chair of the ALC executive committee, acknowledged that addiction, mental health and homelessness were provincial concerns and Leblanc’s application was meant to address those, but the ALC was designed to preserve agricultural land.

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