Lavington crops up farm housing

While attempts are being made to regulate farming in Coldstream, a major producer is moving forward with expansion.

Coral Beach Farms has applied for building permits for farm worker housing, on both the Buchanan and Warren road properties.

The applications, which are currently under review by Coldstream, are identical and comprised of: 15 dorms (360 sq. ft. units) for foreign workers, a two-level, 5,600 sq. ft. communal kitchen and washroom building, a 720 sq. ft. farm manager building, sewage treatment facility and a camping area.

“They’ve identified 54 sites for the camp,” said Michael Reiley, Coldstream’s director of development services.

A building permit has not yet been issued and therefore plans could change.

But Coral Beach Farms says housing is only intended for one of the sites.

“Assuming everything comes together on Warren Road that’s the better site, we have no intent of building on both” said David Geen, Coral Beach Farms president. “The neighbourhood influence there is very minimal, it’s under five homes within a kilometre radius whereas Buchannan Road I’ve got a lot more influence over there.

“I’m trying my best to locate this in such a way that it’s the least intrusive to the neighbourhood as possible.”

Coral Beach had previously applied for a building permit variance, which would have reduced the number of structures needed on site. But following neighbouring outcry, council denied the variance.

“So we redesigned the facility such that it didn’t require a variance,” said Geen of the custom structures that are being built off-site.

Both properties were applied for as initially Coral Beach Farms was unsure if building could take place on the Warren property due to environmental concerns related to wildlife habitat. A biologist report has since been completed and the site has been approved for building plans.

The new dormitory housing will see 88 workers at capacity during harvest and 60 campers during the peak season.

“We’re going to be picking cherries there in 12-14 weeks,” said Geen. “It’s typically about a six week window. Typically it’s July and August, this year with the late spring it’s probably going to run into September.”

Construction will be on temporary foundations and if approved by staff, a covenant will be placed on the property to ensure only temporary buildings.

Meanwhile Coldstream council is moving forward with a request to have the Farm Industry Review Board study current farm practices. Coldstream’s resolution is being forwarded to UBCM member municipalities.

“What we are looking at is a broader view of things,” said Mayor Jim Garlick.

Coun. Pat Cochrane supports the efforts being made: “The people that do have issues are our customers, our clients and we need to listen to them and do what we can.”

While he agrees something needs to be done, Coun. Richard Enns questions if this is the best direction.

“I really don’t think this is the right approach and I don’t think we’re going to get anywhere with it.”

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