Coral Beach Farms, situated on Shanks Road at the Kelowna/Lake Country border, is one of the largest, if not the largest cherry companies in the Okanagan with acreages all over the Central Okanagan and it’s about to get bigger.
“At present we have 640 acres of cherries planted. We’re putting another 20 in this coming April and we have plans for another 280 in the next two years following that. So we’ll be a bit over 1,000 acres by 2020,” Coral Beach President David Geen said.
There are also plans to build a second cherry packing plant and as the company expands, it’s going to need more temporary migrant workers.
“Our present facility we operate with around 200 people — that packs around nine ton (cherries) per hour. The new facility will pack 20 ton per hour and need 240,” Geen said.
One-hundred and 40 of those workers will reside on the property itself — and that’s not sitting well with some of the neighbours.
Neighbour Wendy Iverson and her daughter Chelsea are not happy about the expansion plans. Their house is right beside the cherry property. They feel the expansion plans will bring more traffic to their quiet neighbourhood.
“With this packinghouse coming in and knowing that there’s going to be a lot more traffic coming in because they’ve opened the road from the highway up — behind our house and made it public as well. It’s just going to increase the traffic,” Chelsea Iverson said.
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The City of Kelowna has capped the number of migrant workers that can be housed on a farm property at 60, but that number is not set in stone.
Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran said the number can exceed 60 if there’s a public hearing.
“We had a public hearing, we got to hear input from the community and at the end of the day council was able to make a more informed decision,” Basran said.
Despite the concerns being raised, Geen promises he’ll do everything he can to accommodate his neighbours.
“It’s more a fear of the unknown. I think that once we’re in operation that some of the fears will be alleviated. Tme will tell on that one but we’re going to do our best,” David Geen said.