The Tolko Mill in Kelowna on Feb. 2, 2018. (File)

Tolko receives extension for environmental assessment of defunct Kelowna mill

The extension gives Tolko time to decommission, remove structures at the site

Tolko Industries announced on Friday (May 7) it has received an extension for an environmental assessment on the site of its old Kelowna mill from the Ministry of Environment.

The extension comes nearly a year after Tolko had asked for the deadline of its Detailed Site Investigation (DSI) to be pushed back and after the Ministry of Environment said the company wasn’t in compliance with their deadline.

Tolko’s communications advisor Chris Downey said the ministry had a staff change in December, which seemed to create confusion all around.

“The new staff were unaware of the context behind the DSI extension request and sent us a standard non-compliance letter in March,” he said.

Downey added that completing the DSI will take time because the company’s Kelowna site is large and complex.

“The Kelowna site… has a long history of industrial activity and we are taking our time to ensure this is done right,” he said.

“As you can imagine, the pandemic has also had an impact on the process.”

After some time, Tolko received the extension, with a new deadline for the DSI report submission of Feb. 20, 2022. Tolko said in a statement the extension will give them time to decommission and remove many of the buildings and structures at the site, allowing the team to complete their environmental investigation for the DSI.

“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,” Tolko’s vice president Bob Fleet said.

“While detailed analysis is ongoing, we are pleased with the overall condition of the site given the history of industrial operations.”

Demolition is set to continue, with the plywood plant slated for demolition throughout the summer and fall of this year. Building foundations will remain on the ground until the DSI is finished.

Tolko said there are no updates on future plans and potential uses for the property yet.

READ MORE: Three people die as COVID-19 cases continue to climb in Kelowna care home


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