Tolko moves ahead with demolition at Kelowna mill without environmental assessment | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Tolko moves ahead with demolition at Kelowna mill without environmental assessment

The Tolko mill site in Kelowna as it looks now.
April 23, 2021 - 6:30 AM

Tolko has obtained a new demolition permit from the City of Kelowna to tear down more of its mill.

The original permit, obtained in February 2020, was to demolish six buildings. The newest permit, issued in March, allows it to get rid of most but not all of the rest.

The new work is being done despite the fact Tolko has yet to complete an environmental review of possible contamination of the 40-acre property at the foot of Knox Mountain in Kelowna on Okanagan Lake.

The Tolko mill site as it looked in May, 2019.
The Tolko mill site as it looked in May, 2019.

“The B.C. Ministry of the Environment confirmed to both Tolko and the City of Kelowna that the demolition of structures that does not disturb the underlying soil can proceed before completing the site DSI (Detailed Site Investigation),” Chris Towney, Tolko’s communications advisor, told iNFOnews in an email.

“Demolition continues, and we anticipate it to be completed in the fall. Several small buildings may still remain standing on site at that time.”

Tolko had one year, after getting its first demolition permit in February 2020, to complete the environmental study. In December, the company asked the Ministry of Environment for a one-year extension.

READ MORE: Possible contaminants buried in Tolko's Kelowna mill site remain unknown

On March 16, the Ministry of Environment said in an email it had yet to respond to the request for the extension. That was after Tolko was granted the new demolition permit by the city on March 8.

“They have to get some of the buildings and structures off of there before they can do more work,” Ryan Smith, Kelowna's community planning department manager told iNFOnews.ca. “The city walked the site with them and identified, with them, some structures that could be interesting components of whatever happens there in the future.”

Smith would like the Tolko site to be part of plan for the entire neighbourhood surrounding the mill but that will take some time yet.

While Tolko said demolition work will be finished in the fall, Smith said that anything still standing now will likely remain for the time being.

Tolko also said the log boom in Okanagan Lake at the north end of the property won’t be removed for the foreseeable future.

In February of last year, a Kelowna realtor estimated the land to be worth close to $50 million if sold for industrial purposes. That was before the real estate market took off in recent months.

READ MORE: Kelowna's downtown Tolko mill site is likely worth close to $50 million

One of the keys to either selling or redeveloping the site is the level of contamination of the soil that has been used as a mill site for about 90 years.


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