An opportunity has arisen to fire up the local economy and generate upwards of 50 jobs with a proposed pellet plant in Lavington.
Tolko Industries is looking to invest $39 million into the community with the construction of a pellet plant next to its existing planer mill off School Road.
“It’s self-explanatory, the potential for the economy with this,” said Coldstream Mayor Jim Garlick.
The proposal, which is being forwarded to the Agricultural Land Commission for approval, is for non-farm use on 7.1 acres in the agricultural land reserve (including 5.1 acres of land currently used as non-farm use).
Tolko has entered into a conditional partnership with Pinnacle Renewable Energies to construct a pellet plant on the property.
The plan is for construction to begin next spring if all approvals are in place, said Garlick.
“We’re still in the initial planning stages,” said Janice Lockyer, Tolko’s communications manager (acting), adding that further information will be available as plans progress.
“We know that there is a great deal of interest in the project.”
According to the application report, produced by Kent-Macpherson, the proposal would provide 20-30 full-time jobs at the pellet plant and approximately 15 permanent jobs related to trucking.
“These jobs are critical to the community since the closure of the Owen Illinois Lavington glass plant in 2008, and the loss of 300 jobs,” states the Kent report.
The proposed pellet plant would also create enough product to ship an anticipated 2,500 rail cars per year directly to the west coast for shipment overseas.
“This volume of product would help provide security for the rail line through Coldstream for decades,” states the report.
“This would also provide security for railway jobs through the Okanagan for CN.”
Garlick adds: “The reason the rail has started up again is because of this.”
As part of the ALC application to have the additional two acres of Lavington land (which is classified as prime agricultural) granted for non-farm use, Tolko has included a proposal to include 35.8 acres of farmland in Spallumcheen in the ALR.
The Lansdowne Road property is predominantly farmed as winter wheat and is the site of the annual North Okanagan Plowing Match.
Spallumcheen’s approval of the land inclusion is also needed, and Garlick is hopeful the application can be sent off the ALC in January.