JUDIES STEEVES Closure complaints will still be heard

CEO points tomillions in upgrade costs asmajor reason for shutting down operations in Osoyoos and Penticton. By Judie Steeves


board decision to close the B.C. Tree Fruits Co-op facilities in Osoyoos and Penticton has raised the ire of growers in both communities who will now have to transport fruit further than they did before. Chief executive officer Stan Swales says the irony is that many member growers in the Kelowna area drive further than that to the nearest facility as a matter of course and have for decades.

However, he says the BCTF board is listening to growers’ complaints and trying to find a solution. Unfortunately, the alternative to closing those two facilities is a bill of $3.5 million in upgrade and compliance costs to bring aging infrastructure up to current needs and requirements, the CEO explains. Naramata and Penticton growers will have to take their fruit to Summerland, where the receiving

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pad will remain, along with storage, even though the packing lines were closed a number of years ago. Osoyoos growers will have to truck fruit to the packinghouse in Oliver, about 15 kilometres away.

“Although the board has made the decision to close all operations at both Penticton and Osoyoos, we still have to listen to growers and consider if there are any alternatives,” comments Swales. Plans are to ship prunes to Oliver and add a modified tray line for peaches and nectarines and specialty apples in time for it to be ready to accept next year’s crop, he says. Last year, the apple crop quantities by facility were: Osoyoos, 7,000 bins; Penticton, 13,000; Oliver,

11,000; Summerland, 15,600; Vernon, 30,000; Winfield, 30,000; and Kelowna, 80,000.

Two-thirds of the co-op’s fruit is received in the northern half of the valley, and it’s mostly cherries and apples.

This consolidation in the southern part of the valley in Osoyoos will make that operation more efficient and it would operate nearly year- round, said Swales.

With a new high-capacity bagging line being installed at Winfield, northern operations will be consolidated there and in Kelowna. Winfield now has the newest CA storage, as well as some of the oldest.

“A lot of our facilities are aging, so

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