Kelowna moving quickly to plan redevelopment of Tolko mill site on Okanagan Lake | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna moving quickly to plan redevelopment of Tolko mill site on Okanagan Lake

The Tolko mill site in Kelowna as it was being demolished this past spring.

With Kelowna’s Tolko lumber mill permanently closed and the adjacent B.C. Tree Fruits site being put up for sale, city staff want to move quickly to plan for the future of the entire North End of downtown.

“The key element that has raised the urgency to deal with the North End immediately is the imminent question of the former mill site’s future,” states a staff report going to city council on Monday, July 12.

The mill was closed permanently in early 2020 and is slowly being demolished. An environmental assessment needs to go to the province by February 2020 to determine what contaminants are on the site.

It is zoned industrial but has Okanagan Lake frontage with major high-rise development on one side and Knox Mountain Park on the other. It's also near the rapidly changing areas along Clement Avenue.

“From brick making, tobacco processing and fruit packing in its early decades, the area has transitioned to include a mix of major industrial production, small-scale businesses and residential development,” the report states.

Clement Avenue is the southern boundary of the North End and has boomed in recent years from industrial uses to commercial, along with multi-storey residential buildings and the blossoming Brewery District.

This shows the boundaries of the North End planning area.
This shows the boundaries of the North End planning area.
Image Credit: Submitted/City of Kelowna

In order to redevelop the mill site, the owner will have to draft an Area Redevelopment Plan but to prevent the rest of the neighbourhood from redeveloping in a haphazard manner, the city wants to draft a plan for the entire neighbourhood at the same time.

The mill plan will have to be paid for by the developer and the city is asking for financial support from them for the larger plan as well.

The plan will look at things like the future of industry in the area now that other industrial areas of the city that are closer to Highway 97 are growing. It will also look at the role of multi-family housing, commercial uses, parks, roads and other infrastructure.

The report does not say how long the plan will take to write or what it might cost.

The North End currently has more than 800 homes, 1,500 residents and 226 active businesses, the report says.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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