ALC approves plant

A proposed pellet plant is one step closer to setting up shop in Lavington, but it still has a few more hurdles to overcome

A proposed pellet plant is one step closer to setting up shop in Lavington, but it still has a few more hurdles to overcome.

Tolko and Pinnacle Renewable Energy Group have plans to construct a $39 million pellet plant next to the existing planer mill in Lavington on agricultural land.

But in order to do so, several approvals are necessary, the first of which it now has.

The Agricultural Land Commission has approved non-farm use on 7.1 acres of agricultural land (5.1 of which is already being used by Tolko as a wood chip pile).

In turn, Tolko is putting 35.8 acres of farmland in Spallumcheen into the Agricultural Land Reserve.

“With the land use request approved, Tolko and Pinnacle can now continue the development process on the project,” said Ken Thorlakson, co-products manager.

“There is still a lot of work to be done before construction can begin – including final zoning and environmental approval – but we have certainly cleared a big hurdle today.”

Tolko and Pinnacle have stated that a public meeting will be held but a date has not yet been set.

However, the ALC approval will come back to Coldstream council for final zoning approval. That process could be initiated at the April 28 meeting.

“There’s another process that has to go forward with the Ministry of Environment for air quality,” said Coldstream Mayor Jim Garlick. “There’s also the Ministry of Transportation.

“They want some traffic counts done.”

There have been some concerns from neighbours about increased noise and traffic (as well as air quality), Garlick does not foresee a problem.

“If anything this is going to reduce the traffic.”

Due to the location of the plant, sawdust from the adjacent mill will be used on site. It’s anticipated 100,000 tonnes of sawdust from the mill will be used to form pellets (which are used primarily for heat in wood pellet stoves).

They will then be transported away by railcar – the plant anticipates filling 2,500 rail cars per year, which will travel to the west coast for shipment overseas.

Therefore, on top of creating upward of 45 jobs in the community, the pellet plant will also ensure the viability for the railway .

“This is a positive step forward and we want to thank the Agricultural Land Commission for their timely and detailed attention to the matter,” said Leroy Reitsma, president and chief operating officer of Pinnacle Renewable Energy Group.