Woodwynn exec pushes support for rural rehab

Richard Leblanc's Journey to the Edges campaign asks for donations, letters of support for Woodwynn Farms

Richard Leblanc

Richard Leblanc

It took five hours for Richard Leblanc to stop shaking after his first night spent in a van.

Since then, he’s learned some tricks to keep warm, the most important being to to acquire a foamy to buffer him from the cold of his bed – really a wooden platform balanced on plastic storage crates.

“It’s a huge learning curve … The pressing questions are where do I sleep tonight and how do I feed myself on this budget (the equivalent of a social assistance cheque)?” said the executive director Woodwynn Farms and the Creating Homefulness Society.

On Feb. 14, Leblanc embarked on what he calls “Journey to the Edges” and what his critics call a “publicity stunt” to promote his proposal to convert a farm in Central Saanich into a therapeutic community for Victoria’s homeless.

Publicity is certainly one of Leblanc’s goals. His decision to live out of his van on $320 per month has won him plenty of media attention.

His question now is how to keep his message in the media, as his cold days turn into weeks and possibly months.

More than just a campaign, however, Leblanc’s journey has another purpose. It’s to understand the role that housing, or lack thereof, shapes a person mentally and physically.

It’s too early for any conclusions. But already Leblanc says he’s battling constant fatigue.

The van is essential a tin can that conducts the cold and transmits all noise from the street, he said. “You hear every footstep, you hear every vehicle going by.”

The other challenges he faces are more logistical.

Maintaining personal hygiene and privacy has proved impossible in the city’s public washrooms.

“That sponge bath is all of sudden on public display and the dad with his two sons walk in and the kids look at you kind of funny.”

As Leblanc learns the ropes, a man named Ed is experiencing the opposite transition.

The homeless man from Central Saanich is trading places with Richard for the duration of the project. Ed has loaned out his van in exchange for a bedroom and three meals a day on Woodwynn Farm.

“I’m being coached by Ed,” said Leblanc. “He’s advised don’t park in the same place two nights in row.”

Ed has also advised never to ask for something by never turn anything down.

“I think it’s a personal pride issue that might have contributed to his struggles,” said Leblanc.

 

Get involved

Journey to the Edges asks people to:

• write letters of support for Woodwynn Farms’ programs

donate to Woodwynn Farms

• find a man named Todd, who left the farm recently and hasn’t returned.

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

Just Posted

Carolyn Howe, a kindergarten teacher and vice president of the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association, says educators are feeling the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic and the influx of pressure that comes with it. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Stress leave, tears and insomnia: Greater Victoria teachers feel the strain of COVID-19

One year in, teachers still adjusting to mask and cleaning rules, pressure from families

Richard Pierce is the Goldstream Gazette’s 2021 Unsung Hero of the Year. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Navy veteran helping others cope with post-traumatic stress disorder

Rich Pearce is the West Shore 2021 Unsung Hero

The value of new construction in North Saanich topped $52.1 million in 2020 (Peninsula News Review)
Value of new construction in North Saanich topped $52.1 million in 2020

New figures also show 25 per cent increase in number of new secondary suites

Various Victoria locations were hit with a slew of anti-bylaw graffiti Wednesday. This image has been altered to cover up profane language. (Submitted photo)
UPDATED: Slew of anti-bylaw graffiti an ‘unacceptable’ form of communication says Victoria mayor, police

Downtown businesses, bylaw office and Ministry of Finance vandalized Wednesday morning

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 23

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

(Black Press Media File Photo)
POLL: Are you struggling with Greater Victoria’s cost of housing?

While Victoria remains one of the most expensive cities in the country… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

Photograph By @KAYLAXANDERSON
VIDEO: Lynx grabs lunch in Kamloops

A lynx surprises a group of ducks and picks one off for lunch

When his owner had knee surgery, Kevin, 2, was able to continue to go for walks thanks to volunteers from Elder Dog Canada. (Contributed photo)
B.C. woman has nothing but praise for Elder Dog Canada

National organization has a fleet of volunteer walkers ready, but needs more clients to serve

Two women were arrested in Nanaimo for refusing to wear masks and causing disturbance on a BC Ferries vessel. (File photo)
B.C. ferry passengers arrested and fined for disturbance, refusing to wear masks

Police said woman threatened their pensions in Feb. 21 incident aboard Nanaimo-bound boat

A Nanaimo RCMP vehicle in the Woodgrove Centre parking lot. (News Bulletin file photo)
Woman groped by stranger in mall parking lot in Nanaimo

Incident happened near bus loop Saturday, Feb. 20, at about 4:45 p.m.

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

Most Read