A public discussion that tried to find answers to some issues between the area’s migratory farmworkers and village merchants and residents ended up largely spinning its wheels last Wednesday at Keremeos’ Victory Hall.
The lack of progress occurred largely due to the fact that one of the parties that should have been most involved in the discussion was almost completely without representation.
Other than having B.C. Fruit Growers Association representative Glen Lucas on hand, the meeting was void of local farmers.
Keremeos Mayor Walter Despot, who chaired the meeting, made the point several times that the farmworkers main issues – accommodation and access to hygienic facilities – were not the village’s financial responsibilty.
He’s right. It isn’t even the village’s responsibilty to host the meeting, which by the way, was well represented by village staff and citizens.
As one Keremeos businesswoman pointed out, downtown businesses must provide facilities for their employees.
Why shouldn’t farmers?
It’s time the local agriculturalists who rely on migratory labour stepped up to the plate and involved themselves in finding a solution to the migratory workers’ issues. Keremeos’ rural areas have repeatedly had to have the pennies they throw at this problem pried out of their hands, while local farmers’ contribution to the matter has been by way of a couple of years of relatively inconsequential donations to the farmworkers camground society through the BCFGA.
It’s time they anted up. After all, they are the ones who have the most to lose from continued silence and inaction.