LETTER: BCTF changes for the better

LETTER: BCTF changes for the better

After last year’s closure of the BC Tree Fruits packinghouse in Osoyoos, the closest facility was in Oliver. A new proposed packing house on 128th Ave could change that. (File photo)

Re: Packinghouse closure alternative proposed

Thank you for your continued interest and passion in the tree fruit industry, specifically in the South Okanagan.

There are currently a number of packing and storage facilities serving tree fruit growers in and around the Osoyoos area.

While we are not in a position to comment specifically on the operations of other grower/shippers, we do not believe that closing the BC Tree Fruits operation in Osoyoos has left this area under-serviced. The existing packers, as well as the BCTF “expanded” Oliver facility will continue to provide adequate service to growers of the Osoyoos and surrounding areas.

The BCTF is very excited about the changes that we have made in the South Okanagan. We are in the final stages of completing a $5 million upgrade to the Oliver grading/packing line as well as modifications to the shipping and cold storage areas. These changes will enable us to secure year-round employment for people in the area while continuing to serve all growers north of the Canada/US border for all of their tree fruits. All tree fruit commodities will now be packed in Oliver for delivery to markets across Canada and the U.S.

Our changes have been driven by a team of managers and our board of directors who are committed to reducing operating costs.

We feel these changes will enable BCTF to combat a growing crop in Washington State and ensure a vibrant industry in B.C. Our goal remains; to provide a fair return to the growers who produce the crops. While most production facilities only provide one location to deliver harvested crops in the South Okanagan, BC Tree Fruits Cooperative is proud to still offer receiving and storage in Keremeos, Summerland and Oliver. We offer growers eight receiving stations for their fruit throughout the Okanagan, Similkameen and Creston valleys.

Sam DiMaria, president, BC Tree Fruits Cooperative