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

Three suspicious fires in Saanich under investigation

Saanich Fire are currently investigating three suspicious spot-fires in Saanich’s Panama Flats… Continue reading

Heat warning issued for Vancouver Island

Temperatures expected to cool down later this week

Saanich seals history with time capsule

Saanich will re-open time capsule in 2067

Short trip to car-free Sidney Spit offers camping, beaches, hikes

Sidney Spit is part of B.C.’s Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, a protected marine ecosystem

Women’s March Victoria keeps movement going with UVic symposium

Discussions, community building and fundraising event highlights women of colour, LGBTQ, immigrants

VIDEO: Visual recap of Vancouver Island MusicFest

Walk Off The Earth, Passenger, Arlo Guthrie among highlights

Trudeau’s youth council divided over Trans Mountain pipeline purchase

A letter signed by 16 past and present members was made public today, asking the federal government to reverse course

Hulk Hogan reinstated into wrestling Hall of Fame

Hogan had used racial slurs caught on video when talking about his daughter sleeping with a black man

Proposed charges will cost Saanich housing affordability

The head of the association representing home builders in the Greater Victoria… Continue reading

Island wide crime spree leads to multiple charges against Cowichan Valley resident

Social Media and citizens of the North Island played a big role in solving the case.

‘Lava bomb’ through roof of tour boat injures 22 in Hawaii

“An explosion occurred near the shoreline hurling hot lava rocks towards the boat and injuring several passengers”

B.C. teen meets Nicolas Cage

Filming mob movie in downtown Vernon, B.C.

Critics claim Trump “defended a tyrant”

Trump questions US intel, not Putin, on Russia 2016 meddling

Most Read