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Kelowna council nixes permanent accommodation for temporary farm workers

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June 30, 2016 - 2:30 PM

KELOWNA - Permanent housing for use by temporary farm workers won’t be tolerated, at least not in Kelowna.

That’s the message two East Kelowna orchardists received from city councillors this week when council agreed with a staff recommendation to turn down a request to support the orchardist's application to the Agricultural Land Commission for a non-farm use.

Applicant Balwinder Singh Khun Khun wanted to house 27 farm workers in a permanent dwelling which had already begun construction on 13 acres of farmland at 3754 East Kelowna Rd., according to a report from planner Tracey Yuzik.

A foundation had already been poured for the building without the necessary building or geotechnical engineering permits and the city has issued a stop-work order, the report says.

The applicants agreed to put their request to the land commission but would not scale it back to meet requirements for non-farm use of the land, which would mean, amongst other restrictions, using temporary structures for less than six months of the year.

The applicant also would not agree to renovating the existing house on the site to accommodate the workers.

Kelowna council had the option of supporting the application and sending it onward to the land commission for consideration, not supporting it but still sending it on or refusing to support it or send it to the land commission. Council chose the last option.

City staff are currently working with other local governments to develop a comprehensive temporary farm worker housing bylaw.

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