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Pellet plant before public

Zoning changes on a piece of agricultural land next to the Tolko mill will be the focus of a public hearing Monday in Coldstream, where a pellet plant is proposed. - Conceptual drawing
Zoning changes on a piece of agricultural land next to the Tolko mill will be the focus of a public hearing Monday in Coldstream, where a pellet plant is proposed.
— image credit: Conceptual drawing

Coldstream residents can have their say on the proposed Lavington pellet plant Monday.

The district is holding a public hearing at the municipal office at 6 p.m., prior to its regular council meeting.

Tolko Industries has entered into a conditional partnership with Pinnacle Renewable Energies to construct a pellet plant next to the existing Tolko planer mill in Lavington (off School Road).

“It’s an exciting opportunity to try and put some industry back into Coldstream,” said Leroy Reitsma, Pinnacles president and COO.

But in order to do so, Agricultural Land Commission approval is needed to rezone the land from agricultural to general industrial.

The project would generate upwards of 45 jobs and would boost the local economy with $39 million being invested into the project.

But some concerns are being raised about the environmental impact of a pellet plant in Lavington.

“Pellet plants in this province are the worst air polluters in the forest products industry,” said Lavington resident Robert Learmonth, in a letter to council.

Although he supports the idea of a pellet plant, Learmonth says Lavington may not be the best location as fine sawdust and blue haze will fill the valley.

“Discharge 200 meters from an elementary school would be irresponsible,” he said, urging council to visit some of the existing pellet plant sites to see the impact they have.

But the plant being proposed in Lavington is unlike anything in B.C., and will have low dust emission values, low-noise radial fans with minimal noise emissions and dust containment.

“What we’re proposing to do in Lavington is state of the art,” said Reitsma of the process which has proven successful in Europe.

“It’s more akin to a lumber dry kiln than anything else.”

Other sites have also been considered, including the old glass plant. But with a $9.7 million pricetag, contamination on site and a warehouse that is not suitable for the pellet plant, the report states it is not a viable option.

“There are no other sites located adjacent to the CN Rail line in close proximity to the Lavington mill that would work for the proposed pellet plant,” reads a Kent-Macpherson report on the proposal.

If the plant is approved, it would process sawdust and shavings from the Lavington mill and other mills in the Thompson-Nicola, Okanagan and Shuswap regions affected by the closure of the Domtar sawdust line in Kamloops in 2012.

 

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