Richard Leblanc, executive director of Woodwynn Farms (File)

Woodwynn Farms participants crash MLA’s office

Olsen said politicians can’t overturn ALC decision

Clients of Woodwynn Farms and executive director Richard Leblanc went to MLA Adam Olsen’s constituency office on Dec. 15 to meet with him and voice their concerns. The meeting, which was unscheduled, came one day after the District of Central Saanich staff placed ‘no occupancy’ signage on RVs and washrooms on the property and approximately a month after the provincial Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) denied their application to build temporary housing for up to 40 people on the property.

In a video posted to Facebook Live, Leblanc asked, “Can we count on your support? That’s the big question.”

Olsen replied, “I have always said, Richard, always, all along, that I support the utilization of agricultural land. I have always said that it is a farm operation on agricultural land as long as it’s put in [those] terms to put the applications forward.”

Leblanc, who came to his office with a sample of the food products made on the farm, said they are farming every day, with “over 400 livestock at one point this summer.” Leblanc asked Olsen to “work with us instead of throwing [up] roadblocks and roadblocks.”

“I’ve always put forward ways in which the farm can be successful in the applications,” said Olsen. “I’ve always worked with you on that side of it. Unfortunately, that’s not always how I’ve been characterized, but that’s the business that we’re in.”

In a follow-up interview, Leblanc said the meeting was awkward.

“Obviously we put Adam on the spot but I was hoping to get his attention. I think we were successful,” said Leblanc, adding he liked Olsen on a personal level.

In a ruling dated Nov. 9, 2017, the ALC Executive Committee wrote that its own mandate was to “preserve agricultural land and encourage farming on agricultural land in collaboration with other communities of interest. While the Executive Committee recognizes the social benefits of the proposal, it does not outweigh the priority given to agriculture.”

The ruling also felt that “farm worker accommodation should be commensurate with the level of agriculture on the Property,” and that current and proposed levels of agricultural activities would be “insufficient to justify the placement of 40 farm worker accommodations.”

Olsen said he would base his level of support on how the meeting goes between Woodwynn, the District of Central Saanich and himself. In a follow-up interview, Olsen told the Peninsula News Review that because the ‘no occupancy’ order was within local jurisdiction, he could not influence it.

Olsen said he had spoken to Lana Popham, MLA for Saanich South, on the issue before she became Minister of Agriculture, but that they had not spoken about these latest developments. Olsen said that as a Minister, Popham cannot direct the ALC to rule one way or another because it is an independent body. However, Olsen said he would meet with Minister Popham about the ALR and the ALC at a high level in the new year.

If you or someone you know has ever been a client of Woodwynn Farms and want to share your experience, e-mail reporter@peninsulanewsreview.com

Just Posted

UPDATE: Barb Desjardins clinches another win, will serve fourth term as Esquimalt mayor

Three new councillors will join three veterans at Esquimalt Township council

EDITORIAL: Voters across Greater Victoria embrace progressive ideas, new course in regional governance

Election results also reveal regional fissure between core and outer communities

B.C. Guide dogs is looking for volunteer puppy raisers

Labrador retrievers need to learn obedience and socialization before heading to work

Voters in Saanich and Victoria support creation of citizens’ assembly on amalgamation

Group will continue to keep pressure on Victoria and Saanich councils after amalgamation referendum

Victoria and Saanich voters elect to move ahead with amalgamation talks

Victoria and Saanich voters have chosen to move ahead with exploring amalgamation… Continue reading

UPDATE: Lisa Helps re-elected as mayor of Victoria

Nine people were seeking the mayor’s seat for the City of Victoria and 29 candidates hoped to be chosen for council

POLL: Do you support amalgamation for communities in the Capital Region?

Residents in Victoria and Saanich will be voting on Oct. 20 on… Continue reading

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for Oct. 19

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

B.C. Youtuber to seal himself ‘in a jar’ to demonstrate impacts of climate change

Kurtis Baute wants to see how long he can last in a 1,000 cubic foot, air-tight greenhouse

One of Taiwan’s fastest trains derails, killing at least 18

The train was carrying more than 360 people

Scheer marks one-year countdown to federal election with campaign-style speech

Conservative Leader insists that it will be Justin Trudeau who ‘makes it personal’

B.C. VIEWS: Residents have had enough of catering to squatters

Media myth of homeless victims offends those who know better

B.C. man sets new Canadian marathon record at Toronto Waterfront Marathon

Cam Levins ran it in two hours nine minutes 25 seconds

B.C. Liberals’ hopes high as Nanaimo by-election approaches

Historically safe NDP seat vacated by long-time MLA Leonard Krog

Most Read