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Kelowna's Tolko mill site not changing shape just yet

November 08, 2019 - 7:00 PM

Tolko’s departure from Kelowna is far from over, despite its closure.

“Tolko owns the land, and it will be vacated and fully decommissioned,” Chris Downey, a representative for Tolko said on the heels of the shut-down announcement today, Nov. 8.

That’s going to be a more significant effort than simply locking the doors and walking away. The operation will be in a state of full shutdown which, among other things, will entail removing oils and fluids from machinery and ultimately deciding which equipment can move on to another facility.

Downey said that there’s no established timeline for how long that will take, given that the primary concern is employees.

READ MORE: Tolko announces closure

As for the land and what will become of it, that also hasn’t been decided.

“For the site itself, there aren’t any immediate plans for it,” Downey said.

The biggest chunk of the property, which is 38.64 acres, is assessed at $23.4 million.

The land itself is priced at $16.6 million and the buildings are at $6.7 million.

Danielle Noble-Brandt, the City of Kelowna’s policy and planning department manager, said the land is currently zoned industrial and whether that would change remains to be seen.

If Tolko wants to retain the land and convert it to other industrial uses, that would not trigger a review of what the best use for the property is.

If, however, the company wants to rezone the land or sell it to a new owner who wants to rezone, that would open up a larger discussion.

The city has done a land inventory and determined there is enough land currently designated for industrial to meet the city’s needs through to 2040, Noble-Brandt said. Some of that land, however, is not serviced or the owners are not currently interested in developing it.

If the Tolko site is rezoned, it will likely lead to an environmental impact study as well, given that it’s built on what used to be swampland.

“Site contamination would have to be considered in terms of remedial action and then, certainly, understanding if there were other elements with respect to the water table,” Noble-Brandt said.

Those findings could have an impact on the development potential of the site.

— with files from Rob Munro

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