Grey Highlands council has voted in favour of accelerating the closing date of the sale of the Talisman lands to Westway Capital.
At its meeting on May 17, council voted in favour of a staff recommendation to move up the closing date of the sale of the municipally-owned lands associated with the former Talisman Mountain Resort property. The $2.5 million deal to sell the former golf course portion of the property (lower Talisman) and 59 acres located above the resort property (upper Talisman) will now close no later than May 25.
At the meeting, council faced intense pressure and criticism from members of the public for considering an earlier closing date on the deal.
“At this point, the land is sold. The deal was made. The folks at Westway are anxious to get started with the public consultation and talking about their ideas,” said CAO Karen Govan.
Council voted 6-0 in favour of the motion to move up the closing date, with Councillor Danielle Valiquette absent, as she has taken a leave to seek the MPP’s seat as the Green Party candidate for Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound.
After the sale agreement was completed earlier this year, it was initially expected that the closing of the deal would take approximately 180 days or until sometime in mid-July. Govan told council Westway requested the date be moved up as the sale process was nearing completion.
Prior to the vote, council received a number of comments from the public opposing the acceleration of the closing date.
Kimberley resident Mary Ferguson spoke to council virtually and said she recently visited the Talisman property with her granddaughter.
“I told her I would continue to do what I could to keep the property public,” said Ferguson, who asked council to undo its decision to sell the land.
Rob Leverty, President of the Niagara Escarpment Foundation, called the decision “breathtakingly short-sighted.”
Leverty said council had “capitulated” to private developers and said the sale should be undone.
“Grey Highlands council could have done the right thing for Beaver Valley, the climate crisis, the natural environment and the economy. Regrettably, council has betrayed the public trust,” he said.
Neighbouring property owner Elizabeth Johnston said she and her husband would have been interested in purchasing the golf course property, but claimed there never was an opportunity to do so.
“I just wonder if the developers are telling the town what to do,” she said.
Joyce Hall told council the advanced closing date would mean the property would leave public hands and the environmental studies local groups would like to complete at the property would end.
“This is really a shock to hear at the last minute that the closing is going to be cut short by half,” said Hall.