Orchardist gets extra help

A Kelowna cherry orchardist has won the right to increase the number of temporary farm workers housed on his property.

City council unanimously approved an application by Geen Family Holdings to allow a maximum of 140 workers on a 0.70 hectare portion of the property which is outside the Agricultural Land Reserve.

The property itself is located on the west side of Highway 97 in the northern reaches of the city.

The request is more than double the 60 temporary workers allowed in city bylaws on a farm this size, passed just last year.

However, planner Ryan Smith reminded council at the time the bylaw was adopted last year that any request exceeding that bylaw would come before councillors in the form on an individual text amendment.

Smith said the orchardist has a cherry growing company based out of Lake Country, with 670 acres planted currently, with an additional 410 acres planned for planting by 2020.

"They employ 800 to 900 staff in the peak season, and are anticipating up to 1,000 workers this year," said Smith.

He said the accommodations would be in the form of trailers on non-permanent foundations.

"There would be two groupings of trailers with common parking and picnic areas."

The housing would border along Shanks Road at the western edge of the property.

Smith said the applicant is working with one neighbour to the south who did express some concerns about the housing facility.

"They are trying to do their best to provide berming and buffering that would help reduce the impacts of this temporary farm worker housing on that neighbouring property to the south," said Smith.

One portion of the application that did cause concern was a proposal to use the trailers as temporary rental housing for UBCO students outside of the peak season. Smith said that is not allowed under the bylaw, and was not included as part of the application.

The request though did not escape the ire of Mayor Colin Basran.

"Given how contentious utilizing housing on farms has been, because there have been so many abuses of it, I was actually surprised it was part of the applicant's initial application," said Basran.

"Thank you for clarifying that. That's why we went down this whole arduous road to try and come up with guidelines, then to hear an application of this kind wanted to utilize it for purposes outside of housing for farm workers, I thought was a bit shocking."

The request must go to a public hearing before it can be endorsed.

More Kelowna News

Recent Trending



Okanagan Oldies

Kelowna SPCA Featured Pet

Lily Kelowna SPCA >



Castanet Proud Member of RTNDA Canada