Hubert Pomerleau picks Red Delicious apples from an orchard in Summerland, in this 2016 photo. (Summerland Review file photo)

Summerland campground to provide COVID-safe accommodations for temporary farm-workers

The managed seasonal worker campsite will be located within a separated area of Peach Orchard Municipal Campground

The District of Summerland, alongside the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture and other partners, has implemented a temporary, COVID-safe campground for seasonal workers.

Providing managed seasonal accommodations for domestic temporary workers, who support farms and the agricultural economy, has been identified as a need for Summerland. Some workers may not be able to be immediately accommodated on farms with new standards. Workers that cannot stay on-farm don’t always have access to safe and sanitary conditions.

The managed seasonal-worker campsite will be located within a separated area of Peach Orchard Municipal Campground. It will include 24/7 onsite supervision and will be monitored regularly by bylaw and RCMP.

Fourteen campsites have been allotted for the workers, allowing a maximum of 50 workers using these facilities at any one time, from July 8 to July 31.

“Seasonal agricultural workers are a designated essential service, and play a crucial and appreciated role in our food supply chain, local and regional agricultural economy”, said Anthony Haddad, the District of Summerland’s CAO.

Haddad said the three-and-a-half week period for agricultural workers, using a small portion of the Peach Orchard Campground, will assist the local agricultural industry.

“The campground has been used in the past by agricultural workers, so we see this as a good short-term solution on land that can accommodate the workers,” Haddad added.

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An on-site camp manager was specifically hired for the initiative. That person will provide oversight for the workers, and bylaw support will provide further monitoring of the campsite, as required.

The district said the camp is only needed for a short time, while there is an influx of workers during the main cherry harvest season, in advance of the workers relocating to private farm campsites.

After July 31, the infrastructure will be removed, and the 14 sites will be open to the public again.

“Workers in between farm jobs will be able to reduce the risk of COVID-19 by having a safe place to stay, and that is good for everyone,” said Glen Lucas, general manager of the B.C. Fruit Growers Association.

Fruit Growers Association staff will be providing AgSafeBC-approved COVID-19 safety training to all workers who stay in the campsite.

The site will be entirely funded by the Ministry of Agriculture. No funding from the District of Summerland is required.

Protocols and measures to ensure the safety of those at the camp have been developed with the Interior Health Authority. Those measures include the following:

  • On-site COVID Coordinator and site Supervisor 24/7.
  • Separate sanitation facilities and basic hygiene supplies for workers, which will be totally separated from the public.
  • COVID industrial camp standards for cleaning and disinfection. 
  • COVID screening and orientation to precautionary practices upon entry to site.
  • Infection Control and Prevention Plans, Emergency, and Isolation Plans developed with health authorities are in place.

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: michael.rodriguez@kelownacapnews.com


@michaelrdrguez
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