Avery Group purchased the 110-acre former Weyerhaeuser mill site for $3.2 million in July 2020, and this week received tentative rezoning approval from the board of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen.
The application, which would down-zone the site from its current heavy-industrial rating, is now set for a public hearing March 18. At the heart of the redevelopment plan is a 30-acre lot on which Avery Group wants to build a vertical farming facility, in which rows of crops would be stacked on top of one another in a warehouse-like environment.
Potential crops include lettuce and leafy greens that vertical farming operations around the world had parlayed into a $2-billion industry as of 2018, according to Forbes Business Insights, which projects the market will expand to $12 billion by 2026.
The rest of the land at 1655 Maple St. would then be subdivided into lots ranging from 2.5 to 15 acres for a variety of uses, ranging from storage and food packaging to beverage processing and light manufacturing. Janower, who cautioned there are still many regulatory hurdles to be cleared, said there has nonetheless been “tremendous interest” from potential buyers due to the relative rarity of new industrial land and the site’s central proximity to Alberta and the Lower Mainland.
“Rezoning of the property could potentially bring an influx of new and growing industrial businesses to Okanagan Falls,” Matt Taylor, president of the Okanagan Falls Community Association, wrote in a letter to the RDOS board.
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