Fate of Talisman Resort property up in the air 10 years after closure
GREY HIGHLANDS, ONT. -- A decade after the Talisman Resort ceased operations, the fate of the once-popular 200-acre property is up in the air.
One group wants to preserve part of the land that years ago competed with Blue Mountain, complete with ski slopes, a golf course and lodging but now is home to vacant buildings as arrears pile up.
Still, the mayor believes it holds a special place in the hearts of residents.
"The Talisman sign shows the hay-day of the great place it was, the families that enjoyed it here. But it's time to move forward in a responsible way and in a way that works for our community," Grey Highlands Mayor Paul McQueen said.
The municipality owns two of the three properties after a bankruptcy auction, tax sale and foreclosures.
The town entered a joint venture agreement with the owners of the remaining resort property and brought in consultants to attract investors to try to find a way to move forward.
So far, town council has heard two proposals, one from the development firm Westway Capital and the other from the community group Friends of the Beaver Valley.
On Wednesday, the Escarpment Biosphere Reserve announced its interest. It submitted a letter of intent to purchase the property based on the principles prepared by Friends of the Beaver Valley.
"What is it you want to preserve for everyone into the future?" explained Friends of the Beaver Valley's Mary Ferguson. "Then, looking at the development, developing something that is really community-owned and community-led."
Much of the land has been deemed undevelopable in zoning terms, while the Niagara Escarpment Commission regulates other portions.
"We are trying to put together a proposal that would protect the important ecological areas, yet provide enough development tax revenue to satisfy the municipality," noted Robert Barnett, Escarpment Biosphere Reserve.
Meanwhile, Friends of the Beaver Valley are assembling a team of experts who will visit and assess the property next week.