EDITORIAL: Accommodating Okanagan fruit pickers

Campsite for agricultural workers to open in Summerland

Seasonal farm workers have long played an important role in the fruit industry in the South Okanagan and Similkameen.

But now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, extra measures have been needed for these farm workers.

This year, the municipality of Summerland has set up a campsite for seasonal workers, at the Peach Orchard Municipal Campground.

The campsite, for up to 50 workers, will operate from July 8 to 31.

It is funded by the province’s ministry of agriculture, without requiring funding from the municipality.

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This COVID-safe campsite is needed as seasonal workers are in the area for the cherry harvest.

Providing a campsite during this period can help to reduce the risk of this pandemic.

As the harvest continues, many of the temporary workers will relocate to campsites at private farms.

The campsite location was not the only one considered by the municipality.

In June, rodeo grounds in Summerland had also been suggested as a place to house temporary agricultural workers.

However, the municipality received numerous letters opposing that location, citing costs, risks, water and sewage concerns and other issues.

The discussions surrounding this campsite have also gained some attention for the needs of agricultural workers in Summerland and the rest of the region.

Fruit growing is an important part of the economy of the Okanagan and Similkameen.

Temporary farm workers from other parts of Canada play an important part in this industry.

Without fruit pickers, the industry simply could not continue.

While the extra COVID-19 precautions will not be needed permanently, it remains important to ensure fruit pickers who come to this area have places to stay while they are working for an important industry in our region.

— Black Press

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