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Conservancy puts in cash offer for Talisman lands

'Large scale residential and commercial development is not an appropriate use for these lands,' states Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy, which plans to protect lands as nature reserve
2021_07_19 Talisman Resort_JG

A land trust has announced it has made a cash offer for the former Talisman lands now owned by the municipality of Grey Highlands. 

The Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy (EBC) submitted a formal written offer to the municipality on Aug. 20.

Grey Highlands announced on July 29 it had sold the lands in a conditional sale to Westway Capital "subject to a due diligence purchase." 

The Conservancy was critical of the announcement, and called for a more open process. The land trust together with Friends of the Beaver Valley and Niagara Escarpment Foundation had expressed interest in the land when the municipality put out a public call for ideas and proposals for the former ski resort and golf course property. 

"Grey Highlands has not released the terms of its conditional agreement with this development group, but we assume that it has protected its right to consider our competing offer," stated Bob Barnett, EBC executive director, in a news release. "Our offer is a demonstrably better use of public lands for the community

According to a news release issued by the EBC, their plan is to preserve the provincially and nationally important lands as a nature reserve and for community recreational use, including preserving the Bruce Trail section. 

Grey Highlands owns two environmentally important parcels of Talisman area land, states the EBC news release:

  • The 59.5 acres of upper lands through which the Bruce Trail runs, and which are a part of the Woodhouse Karst system, one of the most interesting examples of karst topography in Canada, and one of the sources of water for the Amik and Kimberley communities 
  • The 74.5 acres of the former Talisman golf course, including a lengthy portion of the Beaver River.  This area is largely environmentally protected and part of the Beaver Valley flood plain.

“While Grey Highlands has been negotiating with a development group to build multiple residential and other units on the site, we expect that the municipality will see that our offer is consistent with the strong views expressed by hundreds of community members in the recent Beaver Valley visioning sessions, as well as its own official plan and Climate Change policies,” stated Barnett in the news release. “Large scale residential and commercial development is not an appropriate use for these lands, which should be preserved in their natural state and managed to provide ecosystem services, available for use by the wider community.”

The cash offer from EBC is based on a value assigned by an independent appraiser they hired. The condition on the offer is to allow the conservancy the time to raise the funds to pay for the land.