Tolko tight lipped on future of Kelowna mill site as demolition continues

Future of Tolko site unclear

Tolko officially shut down the sawmill on Jan. 8 of last year.

Demolition of the property has been ongoing for several months. Just last week, the large smokestack on the property came down.

In a brief email, communications advisor Chris Downey says while he can appreciate there is a lot of interest, there's not a lot to share.

"At this point, there’s still nothing new to share on the status of the Kelowna property," he said.

Sources have told Castanet the company and City of Kelowna are in discussions concerning the nearly 40 acre parcel of waterfront property in the city's north end.

The exact nature of those discussions are not known.

City planner Ryan Smith indicated there have been some calls into the city from parties interested in the future of the property, but nothing more than that.

Smith says the city obviously has interest in the future of what is the last large-scale piece of waterfront property left to be developed in the city.

"The planning of that site," says Smith, "connecting it to the neighbourhood, connecting it to the Rail Trail and downtown will be a critically important exercise.

We are signalling the area as one that needs some planning work done in the upcoming Official Community Plan.

"Whether it is Tolko or whoever drives that plan, we will probably go to council at some point and get their authorization to actually do that planning work."

Smith says many neighbourhoods and neighbourhood associations have been lobbying the city for extensive high-level planning in their areas.

However, Smith says, once it is determined such a plan is needed for the Tolko property, that will likely move close to the top of the list for the planning department.

He doesn't expect that level of planning to happen any time soon, suggesting it could be sometime in the next couple of years.

As for the value of the property, one forecast suggests the property could be worth upwards of $50 million, however one commercial realtor told Castanet he believes that estimate is incredibly conservative.

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