The new owner of the Mill River Resort says he’s “disappointed” with the debate in the P.E.I. Legislature over the sale of the former government-owned golf course, fun park and campground.
In January, government announced the sale of the properties, along with the former Rodd Mill River Resort hotel, to businessman Don McDougall.
The sale was debated all week in the legislature, with the Official Opposition characterizing it as a “sweetheart deal” offering up government properties at “fire-sale prices.”
Responded to request
“The implication is … that somehow or other the current government had something to do with that,” McDougall told CBC News.
In fact, he said his company responded to a request for proposals issued under the government of Robert Ghiz in 2012.
“We responded to an RFP that was open to everybody, not just in West Prince, the Island, but the world. We put in an offer. We assume it was the highest because we won the RFP. So any suggestion somehow or other that we should have paid more … is just nonsense.”
Deal put off
McDougall said the deal was finalized under the Ghiz government but was put off when Ghiz decided to step down as premier, and again in advance of the 2015 provincial election.
This week, the Opposition revealed in debate in the House that, within a week of the deal for the properties closing in late February, McDougall was provided with a grant from the P.E.I. government worth $500,000.
That’s also the amount McDougall paid for the properties.
“Why did you give away a golf course and not even get the buyer to put five cents of their own money into it?” PC MLA Steven Myers asked during question period Wednesday.
Government and McDougall say the grant was to pay for capital improvements, not to offset the purchase cost.
$3 million at stake
He said he has $3 million of his own money at stake in the project, including $1 million committed to capital improvements, the $500,000 purchase price, and another $500,000 he’ll have to pay as a penalty if he converts the property to any other usage over the next 20 years. He said he’s also tied up another $1 million to secure financing.
‘Quite frankly, all parties should be working together to make this happen.’
– Don McDougall
“And it’s at risk, and the only way we get it out of the risk is if we cause a business that’s losing $870,000 a year to turn around to be profitable, sometime in the course of the next four-and-a-half, five years,” McDougall said.
McDougall said his initial bid was only for the Mill River golf course, campground and fun park. But as a condition of the offer, McDougall said “we wanted to know what would…