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Minister visits Okanagan’s largest agriculture workers’ campsite in Oliver

Regional District took over and upgraded Secrest Hill Campsite in 2020
Left to right: Mark Pendergraft (RDOS Chair); Pam Alexis (Minister of Agriculture and Food); Rick Knodel (RDOS Electoral Area “C” Director) at Secrest Hill campground, formally Loose Bay. (Submitted)

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen (RDOS) hosted Pam Alexis, the Minister of Agriculture and Food at the Secrest Hill Agriculture Worker’s Campsite in rural Oliver on June 29.

Campers living at Secrest Hill are employed at a variety of agricultural operations in the region including vineyards, fruit, vegetable, cannabis, and mushrooms.

“Seasonal harvesters are a crucial part of our food supply system and economy, but for many years the accommodation sites for seasonal workers had been a concern in the community,” said Alexis. “Through collaboration with the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, the community, and growers, we now have secure and appropriate facilities at Secrest Hill so seasonal harvesters can continue to support our farmers during the busy season while having peace of mind about where they’re living.”

Secrest Hill Agriculture Worker’s Campsite has 125 individual camping spaces and is one of the largest agriculture worker’s campsites in the Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys.

Rick Knodel, Electoral Area “C” director, and RDOS staff provided an overview of the campsite’s recent upgrades, installed by the RDOS with funding provided by the Province.

The RDOS assumed management of Secrest Hill (formerly Loose Bay Campground) in 2020 to ensure COVID-19 safety measures were in place.

With up to $657,000 in support from the province, the RDOS completed significant upgrades to the campsite throughout 2021 and 2022 to improve camping accommodations for agricultural workers in the region. Improved amenities include the formalization of campsite locations, new washroom and shower facilities, new sewer and water utilities, WiFi and electrical upgrades, and road access/egress routes.

In addition, 50 picnic tables were built as part of an agreement with the Okanagan Correctional Centre (OCC) and installed at individual campsites. Additional site upgrades are still underway.

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Monique Tamminga

About the Author: Monique Tamminga

Monique brings 20 years of award-winning journalism experience to the role of editor at the Penticton Western News. Of those years, 17 were spent working as a senior reporter and acting editor with the Langley Advance Times.
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