The District of Summerland has been working with many agencies to enact plans to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 over recent weeks, encompassing a range of community health items. One of the plans is related to creating COVID safe temporary accommodations for seasonal agricultural workers – which is being led by the BC Ministry of Agriculture.
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, public health officials have put in place rules and standards for COVID safety for work conditions and accommodations for agricultural workers. Some workers may not be able to be accommodated on farms with new standards, and workers that cannot stay on farm don’t always have access to safe and sanitary conditions.
The District of Summerland shares the Province’s recognition of the importance of making sure community members and agricultural workers remain safe. Providing managed seasonal accommodations for domestic temporary workers who support farms and the agricultural economy has been identified as a need for Summerland.
The District has been working with the Province, AGSafeBC, Interior Health, Ministry of Health BC Fruit Growers Association, and others to plan a temporary campground for seasonal workers with on-site management, COVID compliant precautions, protocols and sanitary conditions.
The managed seasonal worker campsite will be located within a separated area of Peach Orchard Municipal Campground. The camp will include 24/7 onsite supervision and will be monitored regularly by District bylaw and RCMP. A total of 14 campsites at Peach Orchard Campground have been identified for use for this purpose, with a maximum of 50 workers using these facilities at any one time from July 8th to July 31st, 2020.
“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 Chief Administrative Officer. “This three and a half week period for agricultural workers using a small portion of the Peach Orchard Campground will assist our local agricultural industry, while ensuring the health and safety of our community. 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, “The on-site camp manager, specifically hired for the next three and a half weeks, will provide oversite for the workers and our District Bylaw staff will provide further monitoring of the campsite, as required, ensuring the campsite operates in a respectful manner.”
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. This camp will be open to provide safe and sanitary conditions for agricultural workers from July 8th to July 31st. After that time, the infrastructure will be removed, and the 14 sites will be open to 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, BC Fruit Growers Association. BCFGA staff will be providing AgSafeBC-approved COVID-19 safety training to all workers who stay in the campsite.
With funding from the Ministry of Agriculture, the District has ensured the camp meets COVID-19 Protocols. No funding from the District of Summerland is required.
In order to ensure the health and safety of the community, workers and employees, protocols and measures have been developed with Interior Health Authority. To ensure that the temporary use of the Peach Orchard Campground from July 8th to July 31st, is done so in a safe manner the following protocols have been put in place.
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.
The Ministry of Agriculture welcomes partnering with the other stakeholders and appreciates the leadership of the District of Summerland in providing this managed, temporary campground for seasonal workers. It will provide needed short-term support for workers playing an essential role within the region's farms and communities.