December 04, 2013 - 3:00 PM
COLDSTREAM - A proposed pellet plant in Lavington is being welcomed with open arms.
Tolko’s idea for a $39 million plant next to its existing planer mill off School Road is being hailed as a win-win project by Coldstream council.
“Council sees a lot of potential benefits to the community,” Coun. Maria Besso says. “We’re backing it 150 per cent.”
Council is endorsing the proposal and sending the Agricultural Land Commission a letter indicating such. The 7.1 acres in question are currently within the agricultural land reserve and Tolko would have to get permission from the commission to perform non-farm use activities there. Tolko is applying for non-farm use rather than trying to remove the land from the ALR because it can be returned to producing agricultural land when the pellet plant is no longer operational.
Besso says the proposed plant played a role in Canadian National’s decision to upgrade and reopen the rail line through Coldstream after its former operator, the Kelowna Pacific Railway went bankrupt. The project finally went public at a DIstrict of Coldstream meeting Monday, but Besso says council had been aware of it for some time.
“Tolko has really done their homework,” Besso says, indicating an application report presented to council.
The report, prepared for Tolko by Kent Macpherson consultants, states the plant would create around 40 full time jobs that are “critical to the community since the closure of the Owen Illinois Lavington Glass Plant in 2008, and the loss of 300 jobs.”
The plant would process the excess sawdust and shavings from the nearby Lavington planer mill and produce wood pellets. Tolko has already been using the land as a chip pile for over 30 years with the consent of the land commission.
“It’s already being used in an industrial way,” Besso says.
In exchange for the non-farm use status, Tolko is offering the land commission 35.8 acres of productive farm land in Spallumcheen that it could incorporate into the agricultural land reserve.
Besso sees good things coming for Coldstream if the plant gets its blessing from the land commission.
“This could be a catalyst for more good things,” Besso says.
She says the proposed site is close to other factories as well as 91 acres of vacant land—and now it has a working railway running through it. Another possibility is using the wood pellets to create heat and energy, like Enderby does with its biomass boiler.
“We have the potential right here.... Those kinds of synergies can happen,” Besso says.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at firstname.lastname@example.org, call (250)309-5230 or tweet @charhelston.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013