More Layer Cake cherries

Owners of one of Kelowna's iconic landmarks are ramping up agricultural efforts.

David Geen, who owns 151 acres of agricultural land on Layer Cake Mountain and is one of Canada's largest cherry producers, is more than doubling the land dedicated to cherry production.

And, he needs workers to help tend to the acreage.

City planner Alex Kondor told council Monday approximately 35 acres of the property was converted to cherries two years ago, and efforts are underway to plant another 55 acres.

To meet the demands, Geen has applied to house 60 temporary farm workers on the site.

His proposal is for 12 ATCO trailers to be placed on the northeast corner of the property.

"The area is not suitable for farming, and is not highly visible from the surrounding properties as it is a low point on the property," Kondor told council.

The trailers would be placed on non-permanent foundations in two pods of six. They would include communal washrooms and kitchens.

Following provincial changes to the Agricultural Land Commission Act, the application must now go before the ALC for final provincial approval.

"Any residential use that exceeds the new principle residence regulations now requires a new non-adhering residential use application through the ALC," said planner Laura Bentley.

"This includes temporary farmworker housing."

It could take up to two months for the ALC to give its approval.

The proposal, endorsed unanimously by council, got high praise from Mayor Basran.

He thanked Geen for selecting an area away from view for the worker housing.

"My fear was in some of these photos, perhaps, there might be the ability to have new worker housing in photos of the views and the aesthetics," said Basran.

"I think Layer Cake Mountain becomes even more representative of our community with full agricultural use of the property. I think it makes it more iconic and Okanagan."

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