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Talisman owners say they have 'no plan' but to engage the public

Representatives of Beaver Valley Development Group say they want to create 'collaborative process'
Talisman former golf course
The former Talisman Mountain Resort golf course.

The new owners of the former Talisman Resort property in Grey Highlands said they are planning a public consultation process as they develop future plans for the property.

Beaver Valley Development Group (BVDG) representatives Paul Mondell (Head of Development and Planning) and Paul Golini (Project Lead and Senior Advisor) attended the Grey Highlands council meeting on Aug. 3 to outline the next steps the group intends to take with the Talisman property.

BVDG is an affiliate of Westway Capital, which purchased the Talisman property from the municipality with the deal closing in June 2022.

“It has been quite a journey up to now,” said Mondell. “We are looking to create a very collaborative process. We have no plans. We have no vision to this point. We are very much in the early stages.”

Golini said BVDG is looking forward to hearing from the public about the property.

“I’m here to listen and find out what is important to all stakeholders,” he said. “We’re here to fully initiate a new public consultation process.”

BVDG is currently working to finish a website, which will contain full details, information and news about the project. It is also in the process of completing technical analysis and reports and preliminary site investigations on the property.

They plan to create a community stakeholder advisory group for the project. A minimum of three public consultation sessions will be held with the first planned for early fall of 2022 and two more to follow before the end of the year.

“It’s important we create something that becomes a proud example of a great process and doing things the right way,” said Golini.

Members of council welcomed the presentation and thanked Mondell and Golini for attending the meeting and introducing themselves.

Mayor Paul McQueen raised the issue of the former Talisman property that Westway Capital does not own. The mayor noted that Westway purchased “upper” and “lower” Talisman, but not the property containing the former resort buildings.

“There’s a piece in the middle, I know there are questions about that,” he said.

Mondell said BVDG met with the owners of that piece of property as recently as last week.

“We are still hopeful we can work together and collaborate in a meaningful way,” said Mondell. “We are still very much engaged in trying to go through that process.”

McQueen also asked about public perception that eventually “the next Collingwood” will be developed on the site.

Mondell said he doesn’t see pursuing a model similar to what is found at Blue Mountain to be realistic.

“The setting is completely different and the scale, it’s not even possible,” he said. “There are a lot of things we’re doing behind the scenes to hopefully bring a very successful and dynamic proposal once it finally lands on the table.”

The sale of Talisman land has been controversial since the town first announced it was in closed-session negotiations with Westway Capital in August 2021. At that time, the Niagara Escarpment Foundation called the deal a "betrayal of public trust." The foundation was working on a presentation to the municipality with alternative development options prior to finding out about the talks between the town and Westway. 

The two parcels of land (59 acres) were sold to Westway for $2.5 million. An offer from the Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy for $2.775 million was made after the town started negotiating with Westway. 

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About the Author: Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Chris Fell covers The Blue Mountains and Grey Highlands under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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