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

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

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.

 

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.

First ride-hailer cleaning up in Kelowna

Lucky to Go
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, drivers with Lucky to Go – the first ride-hailing service to launch in Kelowna – must wear masks. The company also recommends customers wear masks.

The release of long pent-up demand has propelled Kelowna’s first ride-hailing service to great success in its first few days of operation, company officials say.

Forty drivers with Lucky To Go have been busy since the service started on Canada Day, chief executive officer Mandeep Rana said Friday, and more drivers are signing up every day.

“The response from the market has been fantastic, even better than we thought it was going to be,” Rana said.

“I think that’s because many people are familiar with how a service like this works all around the world, and they’re just so excited that it’s finally been allowed to come to Kelowna,” Rana said.

The company, which is licensed to operate all around B.C., had planned to begin service in Vancouver or Victoria with Kelowna launching in the fall.

But in the last few weeks, Rana said, company officials realized there was considerable unserved demand in Kelowna that could be immediately capitalized upon. The company plans to begin service in Penticton and Vernon by the end of July.

Two other companies have been approved to operate in the Okanagan, but Lucky to Go is the first to begin service.

A ride to Kelowna airport from a downtown Kelowna hotel with Lucky to Go will cost between $27 and $32, compared to a taxi fare of between $40 and $45, Rana said. A trip from downtown Kelowna to Big White should cost about $80 with Lucky to Go, he said, compared to $140 for a taxi.

Customers need to download the Lucky to Go ride-hailing app, which provides real-time information on the location and availability of drivers. Customers can choose to tip, Rana said, and they can also provide a satisfaction rating for the driver.

Among other benefits, ride-hailing services should help increase the availability of safe transportation home for locals and tourists leaving Kelowna bars this summer, Rana says. In the past, Kelowna city council has complained about the lack of taxis available during the so-called bar flush, raising the prospect of impaired people getting behind the wheel.

Cattle farm stays put in middle of West Kelowna neighborhood

Webber Road farm
The property at 3620 Webber Rd. in the Glenrosa neighborhood of West Kelowna is currently used for cattle grazing. It must remain in the provincial land freeze and cannot be opened for development, the Agricultural Land Commission has ruled.

One of the last remaining farms in the West Kelowna neighbourhood of Glenrosa will not be opened for residential development.

The Agricultural Land Commission has rejected an exclusion request from the owners of a 1.4 ha property at 3620 Webber Rd.

“(We) find that the property has prime agricultural capability that could support the production of a wide range of agricultural crops,” ALC board member Gerry Zimmermann, a retired Kelowna fire chief and former city councillor, writes in a decision released earlier this month.

Although the Webber Road farm is surrounded by houses, that fact alone does not render the property unsuitable for farming, Zimmermann says.

The site is not currently farmed but is rented out for cattle grazing so the landowner can retain its agricultural status and achieve a favourable tax assessment, Zimmerman noted.

The decision is somewhat unusual in that the ALC signalled through a policy resolution in the early 1990s that it would support exclusion of 15 Glenrosa farmlands, including the one in question, as the area grew in population.

Of those 15 properties, six parcels have been excluded since the early ’90s and opened for development.

But in his ruling, released on June 12, Zimmermann said the ALC of today is not bound by the 1993 policy resolution.

He noted that “27 years have passed” since the resolution was adopted, and that the City of West Kelowna, successor to the Central Okanagan Regional District as the area’s form of local government, no longer supports the continued exclusion of the remaining Glenrosa farmlands.

However, when West Kelowna city council considered the exclusion request in February of this year, it was supported by a six-three vote.

“There’s a historic precedent set in this neighbourhood for exclusion,” Coun. Stephen Johnston, one of the exclusion supporters, said at the time.

Countered Coun. Rick De Jong: “This is not marginal land. This is good land. Every time we let a good parcel of land like this out of the ALR, the speculation and price-driving it does on every other piece of ALR land that isn’t being farmed goes up dramatically.”

Council’s deliberations on the matter, and subsequent vote, were only advisory in nature. The ALC, which oversees the regulation of all ALR land in B.C., had the fina word on whether the Webber Road property would be opened for development.

A look at how provinces plan to emerge from the COVID-19 shutdown

Provinces and territories have been releasing plans for easing restrictions that were put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Here is what some of the provinces have announced so far:

British Columbia

British Columbia announced on June 30 that it would allow visitors in to long-term care homes.

Government health restrictions were eased to permit one designated person to see a long-term care resident after being limited to virtual meetings or phone calls since March.

The province allowed hotels, motels, spas, resorts, hostels and RV parks to resume operating on June 24.

<who> Photo credit: File

Photo credit: File

Premier John Horgan said the province has been successful at flattening the curve on COVID-19, which means it can ease more health restrictions and gradually move into the third phase of its reopening plan.

He said the province is able to open more industries, institutions and recreation areas, but gatherings must remain at 50 people or less.

The government allowed a partial reopening of the BC economy starting May 19.

The reopenings are contingent on organizations and businesses having plans that follow provincial guidelines to control the spread of COVID-19.

Parents in BC were given the choice of allowing their children to return to class on a part-time basis starting June 1. The government said its goal is for the return of full-time classes in September, if it’s safe.

Conventions, large concerts, international tourism and professional sports with a live audience will not be allowed to resume until either a vaccine is widely available, community immunity has been reached, or effective treatment can be provided for the disease.

Canadian Home Sales, Construction Headed For Period Of ‘Severe Declines,’ CMHC Says

Cultural shifts and economic upheaval are among the reasons why there is “extreme uncertainty” in the outlook for housing.

JEWHYTE VIA GETTY IMAGES
Condo towers line the Bow River in Calgary. CMHC says the city will take longer than others for its housing market to recover from the economic downturn.

OTTAWA ― Canada’s housing market is headed into a period of “severe declines″ in sales and construction, but the full effect of COVID-19 on real estate is far from certain at this point, according to a new report by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.

CMHC deputy chief economist Aled ab Iorwerth described an uneven recovery that will “vary considerably″ across different parts the country, and urged that forecasts be taken in the context of an “extreme uncertainty″ that lies ahead.

Average home prices in Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa are expected to rebound sooner, starting in late 2020 and rolling into early 2021. Prices in Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary may not bounce back until later in the forecast period, the report said.

 

Calgary and Edmonton will see average home prices decline due to uncertainty around oil prices and economic recovery in the region.

Volatile factors, such as a potential second wave of the virus, higher unemployment and the pace of an economic recovery, could influence the direction of the housing market in the coming months, ab Iorwerth explained.

“We are still at the early stage of understanding the impact of COVID-19 on the economy in general, and on the housing market in particular,″ he said on Tuesday in a conference call.

“Limited data availability means we will remain in the zone of considerable uncertainty.″

He said the CMHC is relying on its own housing market outlook from late May as its central forecast for the coming months. It expects the housing market likely won’t see a return to pre-pandemic levels before the end of 2022.

Cultural shifts

Greater cultural shifts may also affect the speed of recovery, he said, and many of those developments are so recent that they’re hard to fully comprehend or quantify.

Cities which lend themselves to industries that allow for working from home, could prove to make those regions “more resilient,″ which could have ripple effects on housing, ab Iorwerth said.

“We do not yet have a grasp on the answers to questions, such as the impact of greater work from home, differing impacts across industries, the effect of less mobility across provincial boundaries and the decline in immigration following cutbacks and international aviation,″ he added.

There are also substantial questions about how rental markets will be affected.

He noted that a decline in immigration and interprovincial activity will lower demand for rental units, which combined with a “significant new supply in rental properties close to being completed,″ could mean that vacancy rates are likely to jump.

“Such increases in vacancy rates, however, will be from historically low levels in Toronto and Vancouver, in particular,″ he noted.

Earlier this month, CMHC reported the annual pace of housing starts, excluding Quebec, fell 20.4 per cent in May compared with April.

The Canadian Real Estate Association reported in May that home sales had their worst April in 36 years, with home sales falling 57.6 per cent from a year earlier to 20,630 sales for the month.

Hiking author’s favourite trail is all of them

Makin' Trails
Judie Steeves is the co-author of Okanagan Trips and Trails.

Hiking author’s favourite trail is all of them

The series on the best Okanagan trails takes a break this week with a request for feedback from readers, plus the latest version of a popular outdoors guide.

This spring, the series has featured the following trails up and down the valley: Grand Kelowna Triangle; Wood Lake Loop; Skaha Lake Loop; Okanagan Rail Trail; International Hike and Bike Trail (South Okanagan); Black Mountain Regional Park; Myra Canyon in Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park; Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park; Rose Valley Regional Park; and Spion Kop Mountain (Lake Country).

In recent weeks, the Sheriff surveyed outdoor recreation buddies and those he met on the trail asking about their favourite trail or those not yet featured. The feedback shows the Okanagan indeed has an incredible variety of trails fulfilling a wide variety of appetites for outdoor adventure. Email jp.squire@telus.net to have your say.

Trails that haven’t been included in the series so far, include Three Blind Mice mountain bike trails east of Penticton, KVR Trail from Penticton to Little Tunnel, Mount Boucherie in West Kelowna, Knox Mountain Park in Kelowna, Bear Creek Provincial Park canyon and Fintry Provincial Park falls on the Westside north of West Kelowna.

One way to discover new trails is to ask someone like Judie Steeves who has spent her whole life exploring, and has again teamed up with Murphy Shewchuk for the new version of their guide book, Okanagan Trips and Trails. It is available wherever books are sold, including local wineries in their gift shops.

The latest edition is updated, fully revised and expanded. Steeves is elated that this guide to British Columbia’s Okanagan-Similkameen regions has hundreds of colour photos to illustrate “the many stunning views from some of Canada’s most scenic and awe-inspiring wild places.”

Its 483 pages not only tell you where to hike, bike, boat, fish and camp, but includes the Southern Interior’s heritage, thanks to Shewchuk’s lifelong interest in B.C. history. It also has chapters on the Top Five Okanagan Birding Locations, Birding Walks in Kelowna and Public Gardens in Kelowna.

Trails at ski resorts include Apex and Mount Baldy in the South Okanagan, Big White and Telemark in the Central Okanagan, and Silver Star and Sovereign Lake in the North Okanagan.

This fine book is a must-have for any serious outdoor explorer, but it may take a while to read every page. The Sheriff likes to browse and when he finds a bucket-list outing, he highlights it with yellow marker on the Contents page at the front.

“Actually, it’s been really fun work! It’s taken me years and years of hiking to put it together, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it,” says Steeves.

“I admit that in the first half-hour on many of the trails, I’ve wondered briefly whether I really want to do this. But then, I look out over the view that’s starting to appear below me, or the flowers dotting the hillside beside me, and I get my breath back. Lots of the trails involve an uphill start because we live in this valley. But that also means as you climb, the panoramic views can take your breath away, just as the hike does,” she says with a laugh.

“I honestly can’t give you a single trail that’s my favourite because it depends on the time of year and my mood. For that reason, we’re incredibly lucky to have such a variety of trails to hike.

“In mid-summer, I simply love hiking in Cathedral Provincial Park, partly because the meadows of alpine wildflowers and the views out over those lakes are so awe-inspiring.

“But in spring, Knox Mountain Park is among the first spots wildflowers appear because it’s so close to the valley bottom.

“Rose Valley (Regional Park) is one of my favourite places to hike with its views and variety of habitat. But then, I am on the boards of two local land trusts, both of which contributed funds to establish that park. So it’s dear to my heart.

“I also love the High Rim and Okanagan Highlands trails, especially from Canyon Lake to Little White, and particularly in summer.

“Fintry (Provincial Park) is one of my favourite family parks in the Okanagan for its history and lakefront. But for hiking, Okanagan Mountain (Provincial Park) is far better.

“For a workout, the new Mount Boucherie trails are fantastic with the reward of a grand view from the top. But the views from Pincushion in Peachland and the new Black Mountain Regional Park are also amazing.

“Guess I’m a bit long-winded but I am passionate about this valley’s natural areas. We’re very lucky to have preserved some of them, and we must make sure a few more are kept natural too.”

BIG PLANS NEAR GYRO BEACH

The developer behind a large mixed-use development near Kelowna’s Gyro Beach is presenting new plans to the public in the form of a virtual open house.

A 320-unit condo development at 3340 Lakeshore Road is proposed to include a mix of commercial and retail space at the current location of the Willow Creek Family Campground.

With COVID-19 restrictions still in place, the Stober Group is presenting their new plans to the public online.

“We understand how important it is to get feedback from the community on the proposed development, so the virtual open house will allow us to reach more people and get feedback from a larger proportion of the community,” says Stober Group community liaison, Mary LaPointe.

The developer says the updated proposal takes into account input received in the past year. A 12-minute video has been produced to fully explain the project.

“We want your input. We need your input. This is your neighbourhood,” she said, adding they are hoping the community watches the video and provides additional feedback, which will be worked into the rezoning proposal that goes before city council.