Revitalized Mill River Resort to spur economic growth in region under new ownership
A new agreement between the Province of Prince Edward Island, successful businessman Islander Don McDougall, and Rodd’s Hotels will establish Mill River Resort as a flagship tourism destination, drive economic growth, protect and increase jobs in the region, and keep the property open for a successful future.
The details of the agreement and plans for major restoration and redevelopment were unveiled today at the resort by Mr. McDougall and Economic Development and Tourism Minister Heath MacDonald.
“Mill River Resort is a critical tourism asset in West Prince, a major employer, and an important economic driver for the region. We want to see the property grow and succeed, creating economic growth in the region,” said Minister MacDonald. “This agreement will see the property completely revitalized to its potential, and support the growth of the many other businesses, employers, and employees in the region that benefit from visitors to Mill River Resort.”
Mr. McDougall is very well-respected in the business community and in West Prince. He is originally from Prince Edward Island and has a summer residence near the resort. Mr. McDougall was a founder of the Toronto Blue Jays and is a former President and CEO of Labatt Breweries. He leased and operated the Mill River Golf Course, campground and fun park from the Province this summer, seeing the potential for the property and deciding to invest in its future.
"We are excited by the challenge to establish Mill River Resort at the centre of recreation and tourism for the region," Mr. McDougall said. "The combination of solid business development and modernization plans together with dedicated staff and employees will help ensure that Mill River Resort continues to be an economic engine for years to come."
Under the agreement, Mr. McDougall will acquire the property, including the resort, golf course, campground and Fun Park. A major overhaul of the aging asset will begin this spring, modernizing the resort and undertaking the necessary significant improvements to the entire property.
The resort will be modernized and the entire property will be revitalized. Improvements include major renovations to the resort rooms, restaurant, lounge and lobby. A new banquet and meeting space will be added to accommodate groups of up to 180 people, making the resort a year-round destination for events and conferences. New indoor and outdoor amusement attractions will be built, creating a fun year-round destination for Islanders and visitors.
The Province will provide financial assistance to help with capital upgrades required to make the resort a flagship property, as well as some of the operational expenses.
The property will remain open throughout the 30-month improvement project, which will create jobs and additional economic spin-offs during the construction period.
"To have this property fully revitalized and renovated, and to know that it is on solid ground for the foreseeable future, is tremendous news for this area," local business owner David Ferguson said. "The potential for increased visitation to the area, and the growth this agreement can inspire, not to mention the jobs it will preserve, will have a positive ripple effect on the economy of the entire region."
Tourism is a vital industry and key driver of economic development in Prince Edward Island that provides over 7,700 direct jobs and contributes approximately $400 million in economic activity to provincial economy. This agreement will help increase tourism in West Prince, making it a competitive destination for visitors.
The resort is a major employer for the region and this agreement will ensure that it continues to be into the future. All employees will be offered positions or have the opportunity to apply for positions and it is anticipated the workforce will increase with growth and visitation to the property.
Officials from Skills PEI have been engaged to assist employees from both the Province and Rodd’s with the transition.
If they choose, employees will be offered assistance with resume writing and interviewing skills through Skills PEI offices in O’Leary and Summerside. Skills PEI will also offer the opportunity for employees to explore other training and employment opportunities.
The province has entered into a 20-year agreement with Mr. McDougall.
Mr. McDougall will purchase the facility and all lands for $500,000 and invest a minimum of $1 million in renovations and upgrades to the resort facility.
The Province of Prince Edward Island will invest $7.6 million to assist with critical capital improvements to the property over 12 years and to cover a portion of expected operational losses for the first six years.
After the first 12 years of the agreement, the Province will have no further financial obligation.
Without this agreement, expected losses to the Province over the next 12 years at the golf course, campground and Fun Park, not including required significant capital improvements costs, is approximately $6.6 million. This does not include expected losses by Rodd’s. In order to bring the property up to modern standards and reach its potential, a minimum capital investment of $7 million is required, above and beyond the anticipated losses.
The province will purchase the resort facility from Rodd’s Resorts for $1.8 million. Those funds will be immediately used to reduce Rodd’s debt held by the province by an equal amount.
As part of the agreement Mill River Fun Park will be decommissioned and will be replaced with improved, modern indoor and outdoor amusement attractions.
The event is live streamed at https://www.youtube.com/user/govpeca/live
Department of Economic Development and Tourism