Tolko could be getting a break from the taxman with its proposed pellet plant.
The 7.1 acres directly north of the Lavington mill may be added to Coldstream’s tax revitalization exemption bylaw, if ALC approval is granted to the pellet plant project.
The bylaw was created in 2012 in four areas of the community to encourage construction of new buildings and improvements of existing buildings to create economic activity for the community. Currently the map for the Lavington industrial revitalization area includes the Tolko mill and Tolko has applied to have the proposed pellet plant location included.
Doing so would defer any tax increase due to construction for five years, followed by a gradual recuperation over the next five years..
“They will continue to pay taxes on the value of what’s there today, but for the increased construction value the taxes aren’t levied on that,” said Trevor Seibel, Coldstream’s CAO.
“By them doing this project, even though we’re going to defer when we collect our municipal taxes on it, we still collect all the other associated fees. It provides some relief just to assist. It’s a way of encouraging economic development. They’re putting $40 million into the community, they’re going to create some jobs, create economic activity.”
But one councillor has some issue with the loss of tax dollars.
“I believe the municipality has given the applicant relief from the zoning already,” said Coun. Peter McClean, who opposed the move.
“I feel the municipality could use those tax revenues.”
Along with the Lavington area, there are tax revitalization opportunities for the Trintec shopping centre, Ricardo Road industrial area and the Town Centre.
Gravel Pit making slow progress
There’s disappointment in the lack of progress being made at the Rosebush Gravel Pit in Lavington.
About 1.8 acres of the mined areas has been reclaimed since March 26, according to the latest land use balance report. Meanwhile new mining has taken place on 5.87 acres.
“The reclamation rate is one-third of the new mining rate,” said Coun. Maria Besso.
Coun. Richard Enns adds: “It’s a little disappointing to see that the reclamation is moving so slow.”
While additional fill was received from the Highway 6 re-alignment project, it hasn’t been sufficient.
“They’ve made progress but they’ve got a long ways to go yet,” said Bob Bibby, Coldstream’s building official.
Councillors Peter McClean and Gyula Kiss are also disappointed in the rate of reclamation taking place at the pit.
“The fact is it’s a huge hole and it’s getting filled very slowly,” said Kiss. “If it’s not filled I don’t know if it’s reclaimed.”
But Bibby assumes there would still be an obligation for the operation to reclaim all areas in accordance with the Agricultural Land Commission approval to mine the area.
While the rate of removal is much higher than the rate of reclamation, some of the gravel being taken out is actually being used for an important project in Coldstream.
“A lot of that has been stripped for hauling to the sports complex site at the college,” said Mayor Jim Garlick.