The district of Tofino has made some serious strides in its efforts to purchase Monks Point and could potentially own the picturesque property by year’s end.
A deal is in the works that would see Tofino purchasing the property at 174 Grice Road for $250,000 and Carlyon Holdingsone of The Land Conservancy’s creditorsrelieving the TLC of $1 million in debt.
“We’re very close on finalizing those documents and anticipate that we’ll have those in front of council very soon,” district CAO Bob MacPherson explained during Sept. 8’s council meeting.
“The agreements are substantially negotiated. It’s some finalizing of language at this point; all of course subject to council approval.”
Harold Monks bequeathed Monks Point to The Land Conservancy in 2008 with the idea that it would be preserved to benefit Tofitians.
The TLC filed for creditor protection in 2013 and started looking at potential buyers for its properties to pay off a roughly $8 million debt.
The district offered $250,000 for Monks Point, which is valued at over $1 million, in July 2014 but this offer was rejected by the TLC.
Since then, district staff have been trying to hammer out a compromise and seem to have found one.
“About a year ago an idea immerged of one of The Land Conservancy’s many creditors (Carlyon Holdings) walking away from some debt and the district contributing some cash to the TLC,” MacPherson said.
“That’s an idea that council is aware has continued to gain momentum over the last few months and were at a point now where document wise we’re getting everything lined up.”
He said before Tofino can acquire the property, council must express clear intent, through documentation, to preserve the land as a park and he recommended that a Park Dedication bylaw be given three readings.
“The donor, who is prepared to walk away from $1 million in debt to see this happen, understandably wants some conditions put on the purchase of sale for assurance that the district of Tofino doesn’t use the property for a purpose other than a park or at some point simply flip the property and become a real estate developer,” he said.
“I think that the direction that we’re headed in is consistent with the previous owner Harold Monks, consistent with the direction that I think he was moving into with the codicil to his will when he passed away…trying to establish that the Monks Point property is available for public use and enjoyment.”
He said having council give readings to a Park Dedication bylaw prior to owning the land the park would be on was strange but necessary.
“There is a bit of a funny process here where we’re asking council to give three readings to the bylaw presently before we own it,” he said.
“The bylaw can’t actually be adopted until after the district of Tofino takes possession. The donor is requesting that the district give three readings to the bylaw beforehand just as, I’ll call it, a show of good faith, or to show that we are all on the same page here.”
Coun. Greg Blanchette asked if a public hearing would be held to discuss the property’s purchase.
MacPherson responded the purchase would move ahead without a public hearing but public input should be sought once the land is in Tofino’s hands.
“As we are getting into the programming for Monks Point, I would expect that council would want to engage the broader community about what happens there,” he said.
“Working with our First Nations partners who have a very long history on that site as well and truly engaging with them about what the future of that site looks like.”