Comment: Woodwynn debate misses a key fact — it’s a farm

Re: “Woodwynn residents facing eviction,” Dec. 15.

Central Saanich and the Agricultural Land Commission are doing their job. Bylaws for safety and farm-land protection are for our future sustainability.

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While “no occupancy” orders are posted on trailers and other buildings for safety reasons, residents do have two houses on the farm with six bedrooms total, which could be shared over the holidays until alternative arrangements for housing are made.

Rehabilitation and education to prepare clients for life after the Woodwynn Farm program, out in the world of work and responsibility, should include respect for law and order and integration into the greater community.

Encouraging defiance in favour of “I can do what I want” and “Nobody can make me” is not a positive learning experience.

Most residents of Central Saanich support the farming of Woodwynn Farm.

Few would condone the original business plan: infrastructure and housing for more than 230 residents, their staff, medical, legal offices, classrooms, a restaurant for more than 200 with commercial kitchens for catering and all the buildings necessary to operate an institution, as laid out in the original plan published for Creating Homefulness Society by Royal Roads University. This is incompatible with farming.

The farm was listed at $6 million before purchase. It needs a large population of clients to be economically viable. This could be achieved only with extensive infrastructure at the expense of the protected arable land.

The Woodwynn Farm website notes 1,000 hours of volunteer time donated to the operation of the farm. There are four to six residents. The farm was previously operated successfully by the owner, a manager and a farmhand with occasional additional seasonal support.

Most of the 192 acres were not farmed in 2017. Hay left standing in tinder-dry weather was a fire risk to the valley and surrounding forests.

The Creating Homefulness Society is what it says: dedicated to housing.

Woodwynn Farm is also well defined: Class 1 Agricultural Land Reserve farmland protected by the mandate of the ALC.

Obvious crossed purposes will never be resolved unless the housing and institutional elements of the Creating Homefulness plan are moved off the protected farmland while the farming could be done by the Woodwynn Farm clients.

Few people get to live and work on the same site. Living off-site is preparation for life post-Woodwynn Farm.

Karen Harris lives in Saanichton.

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