Kelowna farm forced to replace 'perfectly fine' foreign worker accommodations - InfoNews

Current Conditions

1.8°C

Kelowna farm forced to replace 'perfectly fine' foreign worker accommodations

Germaine Hogue of Roseridge Farms in southeast Kelowna is being forced to replace worker housing on her property.
July 13, 2017 - 4:29 PM

KELOWNA – The general manager of B.C. Fruit Growers Association says a few bad apples are why one of Kelowna’s largest farms has to spend tens of thousands of dollars to continue housing their foreign workers.

Roseridge Orchards in southeast Kelowna is a massive local farm that supplies every kind of fruit and vegetable that can be grown in the Okanagan.

Kilometer-long rows of field crops are tended almost entirely by hand by Germaine Hogue’s family and six seasonal workers they bring in every year from Mexico. Germaine splits her time between the fields and their busy stand on Rose Road.

She calls the massive farm her ‘garden.’

“We have the nicest garden in all of Kelowna,” she says proudly. 

One of the fields farmed by Roseridge workers, including six that come from Mexico.
One of the fields farmed by Roseridge workers, including six that come from Mexico.

Most of the Mexican workers they employ return every year. They arrive around March and stay until November. Two live in the house with the Hogues and the remaining four in two 28’ travel trailers parked nearby. Germaine has come to see some of them as family.

The trailers are skirted, have air conditioning and private bathrooms. Yet the government has given Roseridge Orchards until Jan. 1, 2018 to replace them with portable structures like the kind used for construction site offices.

“They’re just a rectangular box,” Hogue says. “You’ve got to finish the inside yourself."

Hogue says the portable structures aren’t expensive, but with permits, surface preparation, and plumbing and electrical hookups, the cost for two could go past $80,000.

The worst part, she says, is, after spending all that time and money, they will be left with essentially what they already have.

Four of Roseridge's six foreign workers live in these two travel trailers the Canadian government says are unlivable.
Four of Roseridge's six foreign workers live in these two travel trailers the Canadian government says are unlivable.

“We don’t know what we’re going to do,” she says.

B.C. Fruit Grower’s Association general manager Glen Lucas says travel trailers with hitches and wheels have never actually been allowed as worker housing, but recent complaints to the Mexican government have forced Canada to begin a general push to improve worker accommodations.

While there have been no complaints about Roseridge's travel trailers, Lucas says the rules have to apply to everyone.

“We need to keep the standards up. If there are rules we need to follow them,” he says. “When the program started some of the things slipped through the system. Germaine’s (travel trailers) are in good shape and things are liveable but there are many trailers that are perfectly fine. Unfortunately, because some don’t meet the standard, the rule gets enforced."

“A few bad apples spoil the whole barrel.”

Germaine Hogue tends to seedlings in one of her greenhouses.
Germaine Hogue tends to seedlings in one of her greenhouses.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

We welcome your comments and opinions on our stories but play nice. We won't censor or delete comments unless they contain off-topic statements or links, unnecessary vulgarity, false facts, spam or obviously fake profiles. If you have any concerns about what you see in comments, email the editor in the link above. 

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2017
InfoTel News Ltd

  • Popular vernon News
  • Comments
View Site in: Desktop | Mobile