Grey Highlands moving forward with Beaver Valley Development project
We're expecting reaction soon from a group trying to preserve the former Talisman property in Grey Highlands in the wake of an announcement that council has confirmed the conditional sale of the 200 acres located in the Beaver Valley to Westway Capital who plan to build a luxury resort and spa.
The GTA based firm says it has plans for a world-class resort promoting health and well-being while integrating the natural surroundings of the area.
Meanwhile a grassroots group called Friends of the Beaver Valley have been working to raise money just to get them to a position where they could put in an offer along with the Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy.
Their plan was to preserve most of the land but also develop the former resort into some kind of space for the community that would also be able to generate revenue for Grey Highlands. .
The Municipality received the offer to purchase in June 2021 and says they've spent the last weeks reviewing and assessing the offer and the opportunities it presents.
In a release issued Thursday morning, the municipality says the sale of the property is intended to catalyze and revitalize the area through potential development incorporating health and wellness principles and ensuring the integrity of the surrounding environmental and ecological lands that are fundamental to the fabric of the community, and the entire Beaver Valley corridor.
During the due diligence period, the development team will be meeting regularly with representatives from Grey Highlands Council and staff to help align future development with the community vision for the entire Beaver Valley corridor.
During this process, the Municipality will be encouraging opportunities for collaborative undertakings between the developers and the community groups who have expressed interest in the future of the identified lands.
In 2019, in support of the Municipality's 2019-2023 Strategic Plan, Council directed staff to explore opportunities for the development of the Municipally-owned lands in both the Beaver Valley and downtown Markdale.
According to Grey Highlands' Mayor, Paul McQueen, "Council has spent many hours discussing the ideas brought forward related to the Beaver Valley lands in question and has carefully weighed the options for a balanced approach to future development. The sale of these Municipally-owned properties will cultivate the use of land already designated for development; explore the tourism and recreational development potential of the lands; optimize the use of existing and planned infrastructure, including increasing usage on the existing water system; generate opportunities for significant direct and indirect employment; generate annual property tax revenue for the benefit of all residents in the Municipality; and support long-term economic development and destination development and management".
The release says Westway's development group team members have a successful track record in acquiring municipal lands and working with local communities and stakeholders to ensure development which leaves a lasting positive impact and imprint for the community while leading to long-term economic growth and a positive social legacy.
The redevelopment of the recreational lands has been years in the making. Talisman Resort has changed ownership several times over the years, with the Municipality recently acquiring the former golf course property (74.8 acres), and the recreational lands overlooking the ski hills (58.9 acres).
When it opened in 1963, Talisman Resort was the largest ski resort in Ontario, and at its peak employed over 300 workers.
Over the coming months, Council says it will continue working with Westway Capital to ensure that the future of the Municipally-owned lands in the Beaver Valley supports the goals of ensuring the vibrancy and long-term sustainability of the area for now and for generations into the future, prior to final approval of the sale in open Council.
Back in June, the Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy announced its intent to put in an offer to preserve most of the property.
Friends of the Beaver Valley had been raising funds just to cover the costs of making an offer.
The Conservancy estimated they'd need about $1.7 million dollars in total.