NEWS

B.C. Homeless Farm Ordered To Evict Campers

08/08/2012 04:20 EDT | Updated 10/08/2012 05:12 EDT
A farm for homeless and drug addicted people on Vancouver Island has been told to evict its residents or face fines or legal action, two weeks after almost a dozen people began camping there in violation of local bylaws.

The Creating Homefulness Society bought Woodwynn Farm, in Central Saanich, near Victoria, to create a rehabilitation centre for homeless and drug addicted people three years ago.

Founder Richard LeBlanc hoped the farm would house up to 96 people living and working on the land but the Provincial Agricultural Land Commission turned down the society's application for a residential permit.

On Tuesday, two dozen Woodwynn Farm supporters marched from the farm's 80 hectare site to the Central Saanich municipal hall to try to convince the farm's neighbours and the local government of the farm's value.

Ann McGregor, who volunteers at the farm, was among those spreading the message that the local community has nothing to fear.

"We have good intentions and we certainly don't want to inconvenience anyone," said McGregor.

The Creating Homefulness Society claims its efforts to create a therapeutic camp are being thwarted by local government.

Currently, there are eight to 10 people living and working on Woodwynn Farm, but local bylaws only allow for four people to live there.

Adam Olsen, acting mayor of Central Saanich, said the farm has to operate like any other but there could be another option.

According to Olsen, there could be ways of permitting more workers to live on the land for up to three years, by applying for a temporary use permit.

"It allows for some of the confidence to be built in the community because those are temporary uses and therefore it provides for the project to integrate with the neighbourhood and for the neighbours to get to know each other," Olsen said.

Woodwynn Farm organizers have not yet pursued that route.