Bear Mountain resort in Langford sold to developer Ecoasis

Price not disclosed but HSBC Bank is likely to take a loss

Update:

The developer Ecoasis announced today it has bought all 836 acres of Bear Mountain resort, in addition to its hotel and golf courses. The price was not disclosed.

The new owner plans to meet with community representatives in the coming weeks. No plans released yet.

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The sale of Bear Mountain resort will be announced today, sources have told the Times Colonist.

The sale of a hotel, two golf courses, commercial space and land for development — the vision of former National Hockey League player Len Barrie — would provide a new chapter in the ongoing   saga of the resort, located on Skirt Mountain in Langford.

The building of Bear Mountain in the early 2000s attracted international attention for its ambition.

However, the project  ran into serious financial difficulties amid the 2008 global financial crisis.

It was among a number of major developments on the Island that were scrapped or stalled.

In 2010, Bear Mountain Partnership was placed under creditor protection and Barrie was removed as its chief executive officer. At that time, the resort was in default on loans and owed secured creditors more than $300 million.

Creditors included HSBC Bank of Canada, original financier of the development, which was owed $250 million.

That eight-month, court-ordered restructuring process ended in November 2010 when Bear Mountain resort was transferred to HSBC under Bear Mountain Land Holdings Ltd., which is wholly owned by the bank.

In May, Gary Cowan, CEO of Bear Mountain Land Holdings, put the resort on the market saying Colliers International had been hired to find a new long-term owner for its development lands and resort properties.

At the time Cowan said the sale coincides with the third anniversary of HSBC’s takeover, adding the bank had always anticipated a three-year process to trim costs and prepare for sale.

A sale could also mean the bank would avoid some major expenses and a long effort to rezone development land.

What HSBC might expect to get for the property is expected to be well short of the $250 million it was owed when it took over Bear Mountain.

Rumours over the last few years have pegged offers as low as $35 million and $50 million.

Cowan has never commented on a possible selling price.

Barrie is living in Arizona. The sale of his luxury 12,500-square-foot home on Compass Pointe Place in Langford was approved in Supreme Court on Sept. 26.

The sale was prompted by a foreclosure by HSBC, which court documents stated was owed more than $14 million. 

— with files from Andrew Duffy

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

cjwilson@timescolonist.com

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