People facing barriers get to work cleaning up Woodwynn Farms thanks to unique program


WATCH: Work has officially begun to turn the controversial Woodwynn Farms property in Central Saanich into a therapeutic recovery centre for people with mental health and addictions. April Lawrence reports.

A group of six workers were tackling years worth of junk at the 78-hectare Woodwynn Farms property in Central Saanich Tuesday.

The men are part of a special labour pool run by Cool Aid Society. The majority of the workers in the pool have faced significant challenges including homelessness and substance use.

“They might be experiencing significant barriers to employment, maybe some mental health concerns, maybe they’re not able to access housing at that time so everyone’s coming with a different story,” said Jennifer Tully, liaison for Cool Aid Society’s community casual labour pool.

And that’s why the job at Woodwynn Farms is so significant. The property was bought by the B.C. government earlier this year with plans to turn it into a therapeutic recovery centre for people with mental health and addictions issues. The plan is to open next summer.

Brice Enns has been working for the Cool Aid labour pool for the past year.

“It’s a good opportunity for us to come out here and make some good money at a decent wage,” he said.

David Chaplin started with the program 20 years ago and has since moved on to working independently but came back to this job as the supervisor.

“I still have people I met eight years ago through Cool Aid still getting calls from them to do certain work around the house,” said Chaplin.

Enns is now thinking about moving forward too and heading back to school.

“Maybe taking a course or something I’m not sure what I want to do,” he said.

The group will be working hard at the farm for the next two weeks.

April LawrenceApril Lawrence

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