Owners of a former downtown Kelowna sawmill want city permission to formally begin its redevelopment process.
The Vernon-based Thorlakson family are seeking council approval to launch an area redevelopment plan for the 40-acre Tolko site on the downtown north end waterfront.
"The mill site is an extraordinary opportunity to realize a comprehensively planned, mixed-use, sustainable urban development, and one which lends itself to creating an inspiring vision of the future for both the north end and Kelowna's city centre," the Thorlakson's planning consultants, Joost Bakker and Kevin King of DIALOG Design, write in a letter to the city.
Key aspects of the plan will include historical references, ecological references such as Okanagan Lake and Knox Mountain, and the site's proximity to the Okanagan Rail Trail, Bakker and King say.
More information about the redevelopment plan will be released in the coming weeks on at kelownamillsite.ca, they say.
The sawmill operated for more than 80 years before it was shut down in early 2020. The Thorlakson family blamed market conditions, the cost of logs, and the effect of government policies.
About 180 workers lost their jobs. Dozens more had been laid off earlier in what had been described as a temporary curtailment of operations.
Since the mill was closed, equipment has been removed and buildings have come down. In May, the Ministry of Environment gave the Thorlaksons until Feb. 20, 2022 to complete a detailed investigation into the condition of the long-used industrial property.
"While detailed analysis is ongoing, we are pleased with the overall condition of the site given the history of industrial operations," Bob Fleet, a vice-president of Tolko, said in a May release.