Environmental cleanup of the Okanagan Falls Weyerhaeuser site continues to hinder development progress.
Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen Area D director Bill Schwarz told a group of about 200 people at an open house last week that the project to develop a 155-acre property at the former Weyerhaeuser mill site is still forging ahead.
“Clearly they have indicated very strongly it is a go. They are on their way, but the hold up is the environmental cleanup of the Weyerhaeuser site,” said Schwarz. “They expect, from what I hear, sometime this month they will get the certificate, and as soon as they get that they plan on moving ahead with the site.”
Penticton-based Structurlam is in the process of constructing a building that will be home of one of the largest planers in the world. Schwarz told the public that in 2014 Structurlam could be moving their operations to Okanagan Falls, when their lease runs out on the Penticton industrial park property.
“That is not absolutely for sure,” said Structurlam marketing manager Stephen Tolnai. “Currently that is our strategy, but we are also looking at extending our lease in Penticton as well and keeping both plants. We have a five-acre site in Okanagan Falls and if it can work we may move there, but our strategy is to be big enough to have both sites.”
Structurlam Products is a manufacturer of high-quality glue-laminated beams and a premium fabricator of complete heavy timber packages, with design expertise and state-of-the-art production facilities, which has constructed more award-winning structures than any other manufacturer in North America.
In June 2009 Zinfandel Holdings Ltd., a group of entrepreneurs from the South Okanagan, released a concept plan that designates three main uses for the property, including commercial/industrial, affordable housing and a potential vineyard. At the announcement, Zinfandel Holdings principles said in the next 10 years the site has a potential for creating more than 500 job opportunities. This is almost double what Weyerhaeuser employed when it closed down in 2007.
“With the slow recovery it is probably good for the principles of Zinfandel that this environmental problem happened because it has delayed them in putting the cash out to buy the property. As the economy slowly moves ahead, they expect in the springtime they will start working on the infrastructure of the place and hopefully it will be opened up for everybody,” said Schwarz.