The operators of Providence Farm have withdrawn their application to the Municipality of North Cowichan to include two lots belonging to the farm on Donnay Drive South to the South End Water Local Service.
North Cowichan council sent the application back to staff, which had recommended that council give the first three readings to allow the expansion of the water service to the two undeveloped adjacent lots, totalling 3.8 hectares, for a review at its meeting on Feb. 16 after a letter was received from Cowichan Tribes’s former Chief William Seymour objecting to the application.
In the letter, Seymour said that, according to Cowichan Tribes’ elders, Providence Farm was to have reverted back to the First Nation once the lands and building were no longer being utilized for the education of Indigenous children.
He said this did not occur and now Cowichan Tribes is continuing to seek ways in which it could acquire the lands back.
In a report to council at its meeting on March 2, North Cowichan director of engineering Clay Reitsma said that since the meeting on Feb. 16, staff completed a search of digital and physical records and could not locate any document related to an agreement between Cowichan Tribes and the Sisters of St. Ann, which ran the school and church at Providence Farm, regarding the property if it were to cease operating as a church.
But he said the Vancouver Island Providence Community Association, the charity that operates the therapeutic community currently at the farm whose mission is the stewardship of the farm’s property and the delivery of programs for people with mental health issues, has notified staff that the VIPCA intends to rescind the application.
“Therefore, staff recommends that council abandon [the application],” Reitsma said.
“The applicant, if they choose, can submit a subsequent petition if they would like to continue with their petition for water service.”
Council voted to abandon the VIPCA’s application at its meeting on March 2.