A major Chinese real estate developer signed papers in Nova Scotia Tuesday showing it plans to make big investments in the province.
Shanghai-based Dongdu International Group, known as DDI, is proposing a 1,200 hectare resort development at Indian Harbour Lake on the Eastern Shore.
"Today I feel very honoured to lead a delegation from DDI to visit Nova Scotia," CEO Marvin Li told an audience of business leaders at Halifax's Pier 21.
'There are 100 million Chinese tourists these days. Nova Scotia is going to capture a good portion of that.' - Stephen Demsey
The signing ceremony for the memorandums of understanding (known as MOUs) with Nova Scotia Business Inc and the Greater Halifax Partnership formalized the company's intention to carry out multiple projects over the next decade.
A official with the Chinese embassy predicts more companies will follow as China diversifies investment in Canada beyond the energy sector and major centres like Vancouver and Toronto.
"Nova Scotia is virgin land for Chinese investment," says Yu Benlin.
"DDI is the first Chinese investor to be in Nova Scotia. I am fully confident there will be a lot more potential Chinese investors to come to Halifax and Nova Scotia in the near future," he told CBC News.
DDI released a video detailing its plans. They include a film production centre and an information technology development based in Halifax.
100 million tourists
The company's is focus for now is on promoting "clean, green and pristine," tourism in rural Nova Scotia.
"There are 100 million Chinese tourists these days. Nova Scotia is going to capture a good portion of that. DDI sees that as a tremendous opportunity," says Stephen Dempsey, DDI's local strategic adviser.
The company has applied to the Municipality of the District of St. Mary's for the necessary permits for its proposal at Indian Harbour Lake. The district has kept its discussions in camera, but confirms the application process is underway.
Dempsey says the company wants to integrate the nearby provincially owned historic Sherbrooke Village and its artisans into the project.
DDI says it has already bought nine properties in Nova Scotia, including the historic Pacific building in downtown Halifax. It has also acquired a property management company.
Tuesday's event attracted one of China's biggest real estate tycoons, Feng Lun of Vantone Holdings.
"After the DDI study we are moving our attention here to Nova Scotia. This is a very beautiful place," Lun says.
The entry of DDI is seen as an immigration opportunity as well.
Retaining university graduates?
Xiyan Wang is one of a many Chinese students attending Saint Mary's University. She majors in accounting and finances.
Wang says DDI may help stem the tide of students who leave after graduation.
"This is a big opportunity because they will hire many students and talents here. I think many Chinese students will chose to stay here and stick with Halifax," she says.