Nova Scotia

Digby Pines has buyer, town worried tax revenue will shrink

The golf course and resort has been on the market since 2012 and has an assessed value of $3.48 million.

Digby Pines includes a golf course designed by legendary golf architect Stanley Thompson

The province says it's found a buyer for the Digby Pines resort. (Digbypines.ca)

The deal has yet to be signed — and the sale price is under wraps — but the province says it's found a buyer for the Digby Pines resort.   

The new owner plans to continue to operate the resort, Develop Nova Scotia spokesperson Deborah Page said. 

"It will continue to be an employer in the area."

Develop Nova Scotia accepted a joint bid from JLL Real Estate Services and Partners Global in June 2018 to help the province find a buyer for the golf course and resort.  By that point, the province had spent six years trying to divest itself of ownership of the property.

Sale price not disclosed yet

Page wouldn't disclose the identity of the buyer.

"We are currently working through the due diligence process with our preferred proponent," Page said in an written statement. "Once that process is complete and the sale is finalized we will be pleased to share more information."

There's also no information about the selling price, but in 2016 Development Nova Scotia set the fair market value of the property at zero dollars.

But in 2018, the Property Valuation Services Corporation assessed the property at $3.48 million. Officials at the Crown corporation said they based that appraisal on similar properties and the current rental information.

Digby Pines includes an 18-hole golf course designed by legendary Canadian golf architect Stanley Thompson.

Business Minister Geoff MacLellan says he's excited the Digby Pines is on the verge is being privately owned. (CBC)

Business Minister Geoff MacLellan told reporters Thursday in Halifax all details of the sale would be released when the deal is finalized.

MacLellan said the purchase and sale agreement would mean the property is transferred in a certain condition.

The government is waiting for a report on the condition of the property to learn whether any upgrades will be necessary before a deal can be completed. It's likely any work that needs to be done would fall to the government to cover on a one-time basis, said MacLellan.

"There's not going to be ongoing investment support."

Belongs in private hands

MacLellan said what he's seen at Cape Breton's Keltic Lodge since it was taken over by private operators proves to him running a tourism site "is not the business of government."

"We shouldn't be running tourism accommodations," he said. "This should be a private-sector model."

When the deal for the Pines is complete, MacLellan said attention will turn to trying to secure a similar arrangement for Liscombe Lodge, which remains in the hands of the province. The minister said he's not sure why there's been less interest in that property.

"I think getting them done one at a time will at least help us zero in."

What it means for Digby    

The town of Digby, meanwhile, is eager for more details as the resort is the single largest source of income for the town. 

Each year, the resort pays a $250,000 grant in lieu of commercial property taxes.   

Tom Ossinger, Digby's chief administrative officer, says that he expects a "significant decrease in tax revenue" after the sale. 

"We'll be, at least in the $100,000-loss range annually."

About the Author

Preston Mulligan has been a reporter in the Maritimes for more than 20 years. Along with his reporting gig, he also hosts CBC Radio's Sunday phone-in show, Maritime Connection.

With files from Jean Laroche