The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen has received provincial funding to continue coordinating COVID-19 safety precautions at a campground near Oliver.
The $60,000 in funding, from the provincial Ministry of Agriculture, will help with the costs of hiring a COVID-19 coordinator, cleaning and hygiene measures and printed materials and signs at Loose Bay Campground.
The campground provides seasonal accommodations for domestic temporary farm workers and tree planters.
“Domestic temporary workers are a designated essential service and they are a crucial and appreciated resource in maintaining part of the food supply system,” Karla Kozakevich, chair of the regional district board. “Providing seasonal accommodations at Loose Bay Campground helps agricultural workers remain safe and available for service.”
The regional district will continue working with the province, Interior Health, industry representatives and local elected officials to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The regional district is also in communication with the province to minimize health and safety risks posed by the current practice of open camping in the region.
Senior officials from the Ministry of Agriculture will work with farmers and industry associations to ensure farmers understand their responsibilities as employers to promote community and worker health and safety during this time. Once workers arrive at a safe site, they are encouraged to stay local and avoid non-essential travel.
All new entry residents at Loose Bay Campground and visitors, such as farmers looking to hire temporary workers, are greeted by the regional district’s COVID-19 coordinator for the site and are then required to complete a COVID-19 self-assessment before entering the camp.
This step is also required for anyone who has been away from the camp for more than 24 hours.
Campers are provided with a site orientation and discussion about COVID-19 prevention including physical distancing. A copy of the orientation is provided in English and French.
If an individual is identified as having COVID-19 symptoms, steps are in place to ensure the individual follows provincial health directives. This includes contacting 8-1-1 Health Link and following the directions of a nurse.
Next steps may include making arrangements for a COVID-19 test and quarantine if directed by a physician. Isolation would be facilitated by Interior Health and coordinated by BC Housing.
On May 1, Loose Bay Campground opened for the season. The regional district holds a license of occupation on the land where the campground is located. In the past, the Loose Bay Campground Society, an independent agricultural industry group has managed the campground.
On April 27, the society voted to dissolve as a result of the complexities of meeting the safety guidelines required by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Loose Bay Campground is used by domestic temporary workers as well as tourists and others, many of whom stay several months at a time.
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