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Central Okanagan towns move to align housing bylaws for temporary farm workers

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April 27, 2016 - 5:30 PM

CENTRAL OKANAGAN - Communities in the Central Okanagan are moving to synchronize their temporary farm worker housing bylaws, in part so such housing doesn’t congregate in the community with the most favourable rules.

“The hope is that if we align the bylaw it will make it easier to conform for orchardists who have properties up and down the valley,” Central Okanagan Regional District chair Gail Given says.

“It’s like squeezing the balloon. We also don’t want to suddenly see all the housing appear in the community with easiest rules.”

Given says the intent is also to stop what is supposed to be temporary housing from morphing into permanent housing.

“With these work trailers, they don’t have the same potential for them to become permanent housing,” she adds.

Earlier this week, in her role as a Kelowna councillor, Given voted in favour of the installation of temporary trailer accommodation for 60 workers in an orchard on the Rutland Bench.

GP Sandher Holdings, the company behind the application, sought permission to bring in 250 workers under the seasonal agricultural workers program.

Given did not know how many temporary workers, primarily Mexican, are currently living in the Okanagan Valley but said the program fills a 'huge need' for local orchardists.

“The program provides them with the temporary labour to get their crops off,” Given says. “Having a bumper crop and no one to pick it is certainly a problem for local growers."


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