By ROY WOOD
The Loose Bay campground for itinerant farm workers will open on Friday under new leadership after the society that formerly ran the place dissolved itself and passed responsibility to the regional district and assorted fruit growers’ associations.
Boundary Similkameen MLA Linda Larson says she is happy with the new arrangement and hopeful for the future.
“Something better should have been done (years ago) for these transient workers who come every year,” Larson said in an interview this afternoon.
“I’m comfortable that the regional district will, at least this year, do the management and administration … then maybe next year some other group could step up.”
Al Patton, who has headed up the Loose Bay Society, said in an interview the group decided on Monday to fold because it doesn’t have “the resources, the time or the ability to do all this Covid-19 stuff” and because of the increased legal liability for the small band of local citizens.
Patton said all members of the society remain committed to helping out at Loose Bay as much as they can.
Responsibility has passed to the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen and the BC Fruit Growers Association and some of its affiliates, Patton said.
He said Covid-19 protocols have been developed for the campsite. They include:
- Staff and bylaw officials to ensure compliance;
- Regular cleaning of washroom facilities;
- Pamphlets for campers outlining procedures;
- Measures to accommodate self-isolation; and
- Signage will be arriving soon for the site.
As well, Patton said, the kitchen and other communal areas are closed and no will be campfires permitted. “We don’t want gathering spots.”
The camp will start with the two current staffers in place and will be added to as the numbers of campers increase.
The usual pattern, said Patton, is for there to be a rush on opening day, then a levelling off followed by a gradual increase until the first cherries come in.
Larson said she has spoken with a contact in the picker community, who will try to get the word out through their networks that “the camp will be open, but there are certain rules and protocols that have to be abided by … Hopefully they will come and go into the camp and stay there.”
She added: “I hope those already here, who are drifting around … and are out in our forestry camps like Madden Lake, (will) come down to the camp. It would make everybody a lot more comfortable.”
Larson said she has sent a request to Emergency Measures BC to “step up and help out here.”
EMBC is the branch of the solicitor general’s office given responsibility for dealing with Covid-19 in the province.