Land on the provincially-owned Woodwynn Farms will again be farmed as the ministry overseeing it awarded a contract recently.
In a written statement, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) said, “The lease agreement is to allow the farmer to use the property to grow hay, grain, fruits and vegetables.”
The contract, awarded without going out to tender, is worth $7,413.60 and allows the farmer to rent the land from Oct. 1, 2018 to Sept. 30, 2019.
Contracts of this size are often put out to tender, but MMAH said “BC Housing canvassed lease arrangements in the area and confirmed the price provided by the farm manager was competitive.”
They also stated their belief that a lease agreement was the most efficient way to have work begin quickly, as a large amount of weeds will need to be removed before growing can commence.
BC Housing is an affiliate of MMAH, who they said in an email had also appointed a site representative to “provide an ongoing presence onsite (providing access to contractors, etc).”
MMAH said that general maintenance work is ongoing at the property, including roof repairs, soil sampling and cleaning.
In 2018, the provincial government stepped in and bought the site for $6.9 million after the former owners withdrew their financial support for a community organization’s operations there.
In keeping with the original statement of intent, MMAH said, “The vision for the property includes providing a therapeutic environment for people experiencing mental-health challenges and substance-use issues. The site provides the opportunity to partner with the municipality, local First Nations, and local, community-based organizations.”
Many in the community have questioned what the specific goals are for the future of the site.
MMAH said the inclusive aims of the site, “will complement work already being done through supportive housing, such as social inclusion, job training, employment, income and increased self-worth.”