Tolko is violating provincial environmental rules as it demolishes Kelowna mill | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Tolko is violating provincial environmental rules as it demolishes Kelowna mill

The Tolko mill site in Kelowna as it looks now.
April 28, 2021 - 6:30 AM

The demolition of major parts of Tolko's former lumber mill in Kelowna is out of sync with the Ministry of Environment because it doesn't yet know how badly contaminated the site might be.

The mill was closed in the fall of 2019 and a demolition permit to take down half-a-dozen structures was issued by the City of Kelowna in February 2020. That triggered the need to get a detailed environment assessment of the site into the Ministry of Environment within a year of the permit being issued.

Instead, in December of 2020, it provided some information to the province and asked for a one year extension for the full report. The Ministry of Environment responded to that request in a letter dated March 24, 2021.

“In the letter, Tolko was advised that the required detailed site investigation submission continued to be due and that the deadline would not be extended by one year at that time,” states an email from the Ministry of Environment sent to yesterday, April 26. “In view of the circumstances, the responsible persons are considered to be out of compliance with the Environmental Management Act.”

Tolko’s consultant did provide further information on March 31, the email states. The ministry is reviewing that information and is “considering next steps to bring the site into compliance with the Environmental Management Act and the Contaminated Sites Regulation.”

In the past, Tolko would not have been able to get a second demolition permit, as it did earlier this year, without the Ministry of Environment’s permission.

But that rule was changed in February, giving local municipalities the ability to issue such permits without having to get permission from the Ministry of Environment first.

There was no indication, in the email, about how long the Ministry of Environment will take before making further decisions.

READ MORE: Tolko moves ahead with demolition at Kelowna mill without environmental assessment

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