I have, during this year, had many many complaints from businesses and residents in Keremeos and area, about shoplifting, bad behaviour in restaurants and harassments of residents. I have listened to them all and they are, what I think valuable complaints.
I would like to clarify my position on pickers, or farm workers (I would like to call them all farm workers).
Farmers – growers – agriculturalists let us call them growers. It is my understanding that the majority of growers need help, seasonal help, migratory labourers during picking season, or their crops/fruit fall on the ground and is lost, if not picked on time, I understand that. So we now know that help is needed, more help than there is locally, that is supposed to be why we have Mexican farm workers here, I understand they work for larger farms.
However, small growers also need help; that is why we have what I call travelling farm workers who are very good at their job. Growers that treat their farm workers well benefit from that. However, you can treat them well, but you must also take some responsibilities. It is not enough just to have toilets, first aid, hand wash station etc. for them during work hours. Farm workers must also have a place to live during the farm worker’s season. In order to attract farm workers and to make sure all fruits etc. are being picked on time they must have accommodations which include toilets – showers – garbage bins – access to laundry facilities – a large kitchen with refrigerator and safety boxes is a must. This building would have to be located on a campsite, and there should be a fee to stay there to help cover the cost of the facilities. This could also be the place that non workers, transients or whatever they are called can be weeded out.
It has been suggested this camp ground be within one mile of the amber light in Cawston. Where ever there is land to build a farm workers campground all amenities should be in place. I am aware that there are many small growers/farms in our area that are struggling and need government help/subsidy; I intend to look into this for help/answers to this problem, as it is expensive for growers to provide accommodation when only employing workers for a few days at a time. I will also look to see what provincial and or federal government can help with.
At the October 6 meeting at Victory Hall I said I would not support any more campgrounds etc. before the non-workers – transients have been separated from the real workers, we cannot tolerate any more shoplifting, that all workers respect the social standard in our community, the right of the resident should be respected, then workers will also be respected, like the saying says, if you want to make a fool of yourself, expect to be treated like one, as farm workers are guests in our community they should respect the rights of the residents. When that can be achieved and living standards for the farm workers are raised I am sure the farm workers will respect the community, and this will weed out the bad apples I hope, and there will no longer be any urinating or beer drinking on the streets.
I believe the growers, local farmers, (is there a Co-op? there was hardly any at the Oct. 6 meeting) and the BCFGA should take a good look at this situation as they are the ones who gain the most from this.
I don’t believe that the non-growers should pay a tax to solve this situation, perhaps in the end the fruit might increase in cost. I will try to see along with my colleague from Area “B” what we can do about help from other governments. I still believe farm workers should have basic needs provided for them, but who should do it? Non – pickers/workers should be separated from farm workers. This is a key issue or no one is going to help. I am going to see about a meeting re: this with the authorities at a higher level.
– Elef Christensen