An estimated 700 temporary migrants work in the Creston Valley seasonally with 100 going from farm to farm. Many of these employees are having a difficult time finding accommodation leading to illegal transient camps being set up in the region, according to the town of Creston’s CAO Mike Moore.
There are fears in the community that these migrants may bring the COVID-19 virus into the region if proper isolation does not take place. Farmers are worried about the ability to attract workers for the coming harvests with traditional campgrounds shut down.
It is against this backdrop that the Creston Valley-Kootenay Lake Economic Action Partnership Committee applied for a grant to build a new campground for the temporary workers. During the Creston’s council meeting on June 9, staff announced that $112,000 has approved for the creation of the project.
The ministry of agriculture acknowledged there is an urgency to work with the agricultural industry and local governments in managing temporary workers during the pandemic and that the temporary workers will arrive in the Creston Valley shortly.
The ministry of health has issued directives for dealing with the migrant workers during COVID-19, which the new campground will follow.
The government is conducting additional risk management in smaller communities such as Creston, which rely heavily on temporary workers for the fruit season.
The money will be used to take the pressure off of transient camping in the valley communities.