WATCH: The four remaining residents of the drug and alcohol recovery centre in Central Saanich say the farm has transformed them. April Lawrence reports.
With every stroke of his brush, Dan Fortin transforms a piece of the farm that helped transform him over the past two years.
“I got invited to come to the farm to work and quit drinking and I’ve been sober ever since,” Fortin said.
Stories like Fortin’s are as plentiful as the crops and livestock that cover the 78-hectare property known as Woodwynn Farms.
Andrew Belfitt has been working and living on the farm, sober, for three years.
“I was pretty withdrawn when I first came here and now I’m vocal and very outgoing and kind of like a mentor to everybody else who stays here,” Belfitt said.
But there won’t likely be anyone left to mentor. After years of roadblocks, Woodwynn was served with a foreclosure notice on Thursday and the three philanthropic couples who hold the mortgage finally admitted defeat.
“Their patience ran out,” Woodwynn Farms executive director Richard Leblanc said. “It has been a long frustrating process to get permits.”
With the program’s future now in jeopardy, its four remaining residents are trying to stay positive about what comes next.
“I hope to get a job and a place of my own and continue on the success that I’ve had in life,” Belfitt said.
“I just feel bad if the farm does close that other people who need it won’t get it like I did,” said Fortin.
As for the land, Leblanc suggests it could become a pot farm.
“Incredibly ironic and disappointing and unconscionable and borderline criminal,” he said. “That is the most successful business plan apparently on farms nowadays and I won’t be surprised if a number of companies aren’t looking at it as we speak.”
But like he’s done for the last decade, Leblanc isn’t giving up that easily.
“It’s very doable, helping somebody out of that crisis, and they are my inspiration,” Leblanc said.
Leblanc has a meeting with mental health and addictions minister Judy Darcy and agriculture minister Lana Popham on Tuesday where he plans to discuss possible options for Woodwynn Farms.