File photo

File photo

Woodwynn Farms supporters square off against Central Saanich council

Local and provincial decision raise ire of supporters

Supporters of Woodwynn Farms filled the seats at a Central Saanich council meeting on Monday for a contentious question and answer period.

In November, the provincial Agricultural Land Commission turned down the farm’s application to build temporary housing. Last week, Central Saanich district staff posted ‘no occupancy’ notices on trailers and washroom facilities on the farm after an inspection revealed electrical issues they considered dangerous. Both issues prompted a wide range of public comments.

One speaker asked why council had not “educated themselves” on the issue or taken a tour of the facility. When Coun. Bob Thompson, who was acting chair in the mayor’s absence, replied that the council was familiar the supporter said “so you’re saying you don’t care?”

“Listen, we are doing our best here,” replied Thompson. “We are dealing with a complex issue here. We are here to take questions, and we will answer them where and when we can.” After a follow up, Thompson said “the implication that we are not trying to save lives is not an accurate assessment of members of council.” Other statements from supporters were at times punctuated by applause from the gallery, which Thompson eventually stopped trying to control.

“Well, I think this question does need to be answered and there’s obviously some issues of clarification that some people haven’t understood,” said Coun. Christopher Graham at the meeting. “The Agricultural Land Commission has not approved this proposal. We are not in a position to allow the proposal to go further without the Agricultural Land Commission’s approval. So, this is not something that Council has given any direction or instruction to them. So I really think you’re trying to bark up the wrong tree but I get you’re upset.”

In a follow-up interview, Graham said that “I’m not particularly happy with that technique being used,” referring to the statements made by Woodwynn supporters.

“I’m not really sure what that was supposed to achieve, because council isn’t in a position to do anything in this case.”

Central Saanich mayor Ryan Windsor was not present for this session because he had recused himself. Prior to the meeting, council learned that Windsor had a friend staying in a van on his family’s property, which itself is within the ALR. The parallels to Woodwynn Farms were not lost on the mayor, so he recused himself.

“There’s a similarity in the perception so I have said that as a result of this coming forward, I’m obviously going to comply so that Council can continue to not have to deal with the perception that somebody at the table is conflicted on this matter,” said Windsor in a follow-up interview.

“The statement I made, and I was very emphatic about it [that] night, is that I fully intend to comply with district bylaws as soon as obviously practicable.”

Windsor said he was consulting to see if he would recuse himself permanently from the situation, or if a temporary recusal would be sufficient.

Coun. Graham said that elected officials did not direct district staff to make the inspection which led to the ‘no occupancy’ signage; staff did the inspection independently, which was corroborated by Liz Cornwell, acting Chief Administrative Officer for Central Saanich. Graham said that he has seen previous incidents where trailers have burned down due to electrical fires, and he felt that district staff “had a responsibility to put lives and people’s safety first.”

Richard Leblanc, executive director of the Creating Homefulness Society, did not respond to requests for comment before press deadline.

Council resolved to meet with the board of the Creating Homefulness Society in the new year to discuss ongoing concerns.



reporter@peninsulanewsreview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A decade into the 100-year blueprint for restoring the Bowker Creek watershed, Soren Henrich, director of the Friends of Bowker Creek Society, feels positive about the future of conservation and daylighting of the creek. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Ten years in, Greater Victoria’s 100-year Bowker Creek blueprint gets a boost

Victoria council passes several restoration recommendations

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: One man shot dead in ‘targeted incident’ on Sooke Road

Highway 14 reopens following multi-hour closure for investigation

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

A resurfacing of the tennis court in Metchosin is being eyed for the community. However, funding opportunities still need to be solidified for the project. (Michelle Cabana/Black Press Media)
Renewed surface eyed for Metchosin tennis court

Funding source must first be solidified in order for project to happen

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

(Black Press Media files)
Medicine gardens help Victoria’s Indigenous kids in care stay culturally connected

Traditional plants brought to the homes of Indigenous kids amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Personal protective equipment is seen in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
$16.9 million invested to improve worker safety, strengthen B.C.’s food supply chain

Money to be used for social distancing, personal protective equipment, cleaning, and air circulation

More than ever before, as pandemic conditions persist, the threat of data breaches and cyberattacks continues to grow, according to SFU professor Michael Parent. (Pixabay photo)
SFU expert unveils 5 ways the COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed cybersecurity

Recognizing these changes is the first in a series of steps to mitigate them once the pandemic ends, and before the next: Michael Parent

Kevin Haughton is the founder/technologist of Courtenay-based Clearflo Solutions. Scott Stanfield photo
Islander aims Clearflo clean drinking water system at Canada’s remote communities

Entrepreneur $300,000 mobile system can produce 50,000 litres of water in a day, via solar energy

Most Read