Temporary Foreign Worker Communities
Lyn Stratford | Ideation
Jordan Lambie, Urban Design Planner
Gordon Stratford, Architect | G C Stratford I Architect
The main theme of this project is improving accommodations for essential workers who provide our communities with a fundamental need: food.
In the fall of 2020, the Government of Canada announced a call for consultation regarding improving Temporary Foreign Worker Accommodations. COVID-19 has been a driving force leading to the announcement, due to the poor living conditions often endured by foreign workers engaged in Canada’s agricultural industry. Such conditions create a setting for the disease to thrive, putting workers’ and others’ lives at serious risk. This compounding cascade of events reveals incredible resilience on the part of the workers and a significant lack of resilience in the provision of one of our most fundamental needs, as well as how we care for guests in our country who help make the food we eat possible.
As a team of built environment designers, we are passionate about creative problem-solving with a social heart. The federal call focused on specific stakeholders, ranging from employers and workers to government bodies and foreign partner countries. Although our team did not fit within the call’s intended bandwidth of participants, our desire was to offer our unique perspective toward improving living conditions for workers. We wanted to show how design can be a potent agent for change.
This SHIFT submission focuses on design as a catalyst for achieving a healthy, nurturing, and adaptable home-away-from-home for vibrant foreign worker communities. Our design path has considered creative ideas from the big picture (overall community—villages, hamlets, homesteads) down to the personal (personal space, amenities). This holistic approach enables creative consideration toward what temporary workers need as they make their way through their daily lives as individuals, members of farm teams, and citizens of their away-from-home community.