It looks like a big concrete cube sitting in the middle of a farm field but it won’t look that way for long.

Nicknamed the “pot bunker” by residents, the building next to Michell’s Farm Market off Pat Bay Highway was designed as a site to grow medical cannabis.

“I have yet to hear anyone who thought it was an attractive building,” said Central Saanich coun. Robert Thompson. “So the bunker was an appropriate description.”

Now, Philip Illingworth, the owner of 6922 Lochside Drive, is planning to repaint the exterior of the building.

“I hope someone would drive down the road and look over and say, oh you know, ‘it’s a nice farm building, a bit square, but, you know,’ and there [will be] trees around the fence so it doesn’t look like a small jail,” said Illingworth.

His decision comes after a lengthy legal battle, spanning about two years, over more than $400,000 in unpaid rent. The bunker’s tenants, Evergreen Medicinal Supply, were ordered to leave by the end of January. When they left, however, Illingworth said they took some things with them.

“Well, they took the propane backup generator outside, they took all the lights for growing marijuana, they took the controls that control the heat system in the building,” Illingworth said, naming just a few items.

However, after another day in court, the hundreds of items have been returned. Although Illingworth says he isn’t happy that it happened, he’s glad the items are back. He now plans on finding another medical marijuana grow-op to move in.

In the meantime, Illingworth said the structure is going to get a makeover aimed at making it blend into the natural environment a little more.

It’s a change that residents are excited to see and have been requesting for years.

“There’s no question that the bunker-like appearance of it certainly did not fit with the farmland experience that people enjoy,” said Thompson. “I think people would be happy to see something that blended into the environment better than just being a square cement box.”

Jasmine Bala