Shutdown application filed by Tolko

By on November 8, 2017
Tolko Industries shuttered its Merritt mill last year. (Cole Wagner/Herald).

 

There is fire damage wood to be milled for Tolko Industries — just not in Merritt.

A year after its Merritt mill was permanently shuttered, Tolko Industries has started the process of dismantling some of the equipment on site in order to help process an influx of fire-damaged timber at other B.C. mills owned by the company.

“We are sending some of the debarkers to Lakeview and Soda Creek to help improve the debarking quality for fire damaged wood,” explained Janice Lockyer, communications advisor for Tolko Industries.

While the company still has no concrete plans for the Merritt property, Lockyer said the company will continue to look for other homes for the some of the equipment onsite.

An estimated 53 million cubic metres of useable timber burned during the summer’s record-breaking forest fire season. B.C.’s forest minister Doug Donaldson has said that some of that timber could be salvaged at mills near the areas where it burned.

Meanwhile, Tolko Industries has applied to the BC Assessments Office for a shutdown allowance, a move which will shrink the industrial tax base for the City of Merritt in 2018.

“What it will mean, with that allowance, we’ll take the depreciation of the buildings [onsite] down from whatever they were to 90 per cent depreciation,” said Graham Held, acting regional assessor with the BC Assessment. “In the case of the Tolko property, the building value on the 2017 assessment roll was about $6.1 million in class four major industry, and it will go down to about $2.2 million.”

Despite a smaller industrial tax base, the City of Merritt still has levers to pull in order to potentially compensate for the loss — namely by increasing the tax rate for class four major industry, explained Held.

In order to not be considered a class four industrial property, Tolko “would have to make it so that the property could no longer operate as a sawmill,” said Held. “In my history with BC Assessment, the odd time I’ve seen that happen, demolition generally starts prior to October 1.”

The company has not alerted BC Assessment of any plans to begin demolition, he added.

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