Demolition of lumber mill on Okanagan Lake shore in Kelowna gets approval | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Demolition of lumber mill on Okanagan Lake shore in Kelowna gets approval

The Tolko mill site in Kelowna.
May 07, 2021 - 11:09 AM

Tolko Industries has been granted the one-year extension it applied for months ago to determine what contaminants may be in the soils of their Kelowna mill site.

The mill was closed in 2019. Demolition started in the spring of 2020 and is expected to continue into the fall.

Once the company got its first demolition permit from the City of Kelowna in February 2020, they had one year to do an environmental study of the site and submit a report to the Ministry of Environment so it could then determine if it’s a contaminated site and, if so, what measures are needed to clean it up.

According to the Ministry of Environment, Tolko applied for a one-year extension last December but were sent a letter in March saying it would not be granted.

READ MORE: Tolko is violating provincial environmental rules as it demolishes Kelowna mill

That changed earlier this week as the extension was granted to Feb. 20, 2022, according to a Tolko news release issued today, May 7.

“We asked Ministry staff nearly a year ago for an extension on completing the DSI (detailed site investigation) and were under the impression that it would be granted,” Tolko’s Communications Advisor, Chris Downey, said in an email to on April 28. “It is not uncommon to receive extensions on this process — the Kelowna site is large and complex with a long history of industrial activity and we are taking our time to ensure this is done right."

The site has been used as a lumber mill since the 1930s.

READ MORE: Changing times: Tolko closure marks the end of a way of life, says local historian

“Because of a staff change at the Ministry in December, the new staff were unaware of the context behind the DSI extension request and sent us a standard non-compliance letter in March as we were past the original date," Downey said.

Tolko sent further documentation to the new staff, which resulted in the extension being granted.

“The third-party team conducting the site study have used provincial protocols to confirm that the site is not high risk to the environment or human health,” Bob Fleet, Tolko’s vice-president, environment and forestry, said in the news release. “While detailed analysis is ongoing, we are pleased with the overall condition of the site given the history of industrial operations.”

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