Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Letter from Woodwyn Farm to Central Saanich Council

I got this via email today.

Woodwynn Taking a Stand for Human Rights - April 27, 2011
April 18, 2011
District of Central Saanich
Mayor and Council

Re: Woodwynn Farm Zoning Amendment

Mayor Jack Mar and Council Members:
Woodwynn Farm recently made an application to the District of Central Saanich for an amendment to the Land use Bylaw. The intent is to permit additional housing on the site while still maintaining the farm status that both we at Woodwynn Farm desire and the Official Community Plan mandates. Our proposal is to use approximately one percent of the land to accommodate the homeless and our Therapeutic community project, and have our participants, staff and volunteers work/learn on the farm and keep 99% of the land in farm uses permitted by the Agricultural Land Commission. 
We wish at this time to draw to you, an awareness that there are widespread prejudices and fears that surround mental illness and addictions. Those suffering from physical ailments are treated with Compassion, Dignity and Respect and receive millions of $$ in treatment at their immediate disposal. While in contrast, those suffering from mental illness or addictions get a bowl of soup, a cot and a clean syringe - and many are forced into a life of crime to survive. The homeless are often warehoused in shelters and housing projects as part of a mantra of "Out of sight, out of mind". Hardworking and dedicated case workers are exhausted stretching increasingly meagre resources increasingly further. 
As a culture we have not dispensed our humanity equally. Minorities, including First Nations, blacks, and gays have all in turn been marginalized and worse. And while the work is not done, as a society we have learned that we can do better for each of these groups. Our Woodwynn project challenges us to do better for our homeless citizens. This is not a temporary fix but a blueprint for real social change. 
Our Mission is to assist our apprentices to lead a life of sobriety and self-reliance. The Therapeutic Community model has an over 70% success rate in achieving this goal, long-term. Part of our prescription for mental-health and addictions is to treat people with Dignity, Respect, Honesty, Compassion, and Support - Our Core Values. When people are treated with respect, they find self-respect, they respect others and find the ability to respect the land. When people are treated with compassion, they find compassion for others. When people feel the gratifications of Accomplishment, they find the Dignity of Self-Reliance. 
"The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings"
- Masanobu Fukuoka 
To live free of discrimination is a Human Right. To argue that a person cannot be housed because a project does not fit in, or is not in the best interest of current and future landowners cannot overrun that right. The BC Human Rights Code exists to foster a society without impediments to full and free participation in the economic, social, political and cultural life in BC. It prohibits discrimination against persons regarding any accommodation, service or facility customarily available to the public on the basis of physical or mental disability. 
We wish to therefore inform you that:
1. We hold any individual, organization, community plans, zoning by-laws or policy that essentially excludes or defames people because of their mental health, addiction or history of homelessness, to be discriminatory and therefore completely unacceptable
2. To further demonstrate our intention to help more people, and grow more fruits and vegetables on the land, we will be increasing the number of participants in our Therapeutic Community project to '10', as soon as is practical
3. We wish to move forward with our application for rezoning 
Please let us know if you require additional information.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.


Richard Leblanc
Founder & Executive Director, Creating Homefulness Society
"Believe in people...
... until they are ready to believe in themselves" 
Submitted on behalf of the homeless we serve and their loved ones, our dedicated volunteers and staff and the Board of Directors
Woodwynn Farms Goals:
1. House and apprentice 96 participants in the Therapeutic Community Program
2. For the first time in over 150 years, grow produce on one of Vancouver Island's largest farms, and keep the farm in the Agricultural Land Reserve.
3. Reach our goal of 2011 people, donating 99 cents a day, helping to secure the financial future of Woodwynn Farms
Please write to mayor and council and tell them why this is important to you.
Please donate, and help us make this project a reality! 
"We cannot allow Politics, Bureaucracy and a few people resorting to bullying tactics, to continue to keep us from our Humanity" - RL 
7789 W. Saanich Rd, Victoria, BC, Canada, V8M 2C5
O: (250) 544-1175 C: (250) 589-5805

1 comment:

David Bratzer said...

This sounds like a shift towards to the use of civil disobedience (ie. moving to ten residents on the farm, contrary to the current zoning). It will be interesting to follow this issue as the municipal elections draw near.

Personally, I support the Woodwynn Farms concept (with the exception of the planned restaurant, which I'm not sure is financially viable). I've spoken to Richard several times and I was at Central Saanich municipal hall along with other supporters when he delivered the application for rezoning to the mayor.

It's a shame that Central Saanich councillors and residents have not been able to work out some kind of compromise with Woodwynn Farms. Perhaps they could negotiate a cap on the number of people on the farm at fifty instead of one hundred. Surely if both sides sat down with each other in good faith then these problems could be resolved.