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'BC's best kept secret'...'A Jewel in the rough'... yes Geoff Courtnall, we are onto you now...

This initial article was published in The Vancouver Province Newspaper in Nov 2002. The future of Egmont looked bright with the promises made by hockey great Geoff Courtnall and logging contractor Dale Malloch:

They're calling it the largest and most valuable real-estate deal in Sunshine Coast history. And it's aimed at turning a prime corner of B.C. wilderness into a deluxe retreat for superstar athletes.

A consortium of professional hockey players, logging contractors and a flamboyant American horse -owner/real-estate tycoon have joined hands -- and wallets -- to buy a 2,260-hectare block of lots opposite the tiny fishing/resort village of Egmont for about $11 million.

Longtime Sunshine Coast realtor Bruce Lasuta confirmed that it's "the single largest real-estate transaction in the history of the [Sunshine] Coast, both in land area and dollar value."

The group, Pacific Northwoods Resources, represent investments from as far afield as Los Angeles, St. Louis and Victoria. Principals include former Vancouver Canucks players Geoff and Russ Courtnall, Vancouver Island contractor Dale Malloch and Laguna Beach, California-based mortgage magnate Paul Reddam.

Geoff Courtnall says they are also in talks to buy adjacent lands as a long-term investment, especially for Americans.

"Since 9/11, a lot of Americans have discovered the value in Canadian real estate and see it as a safe investment," he says.

The land stretches from Narrows Inlet to Jervis Inlet and takes in the better part of a whole mountain, an area more than 5.5 times as large as Stanley Park.

According to Geoff Courtnall, plans for the property include an airstrip and heliport to ferry visitors to Whistler, a high-end, West-Coast-style lodge complete with pool, spa and tennis courts, a five-star restaurant and luxurious, log-style chalets sold on a time-share basis.

In short, he says, the idea is to recreate something much like what the Oak Bay Marine Group has done at April Point and Painters Lodge, but with a more upscale touch.

In Geoff Courtnall's words, that would include a West-Coast adventure recreation destination, aimed primarily at those with plenty of money and at profesional athletes in particular.

Eventual plans could include ferrying cruise passengers from Vancouver by plane or high-speed Zodiacs for up-close tours of the coast.

"The world knows we have wildlife here, and native culture, and a lot of people just want to see our incredible scenery," Geoff Courtnall says. "It's unique in the world."

A high-end-chain hotel is also an option at some point, "but we haven't had enough time yet to really evaluate things."

Geoff Courtnall says the group discovered the land through Malloch, who played hockey with Russ Courtnall as a kid.

"What happened was Russ, Wayne Gretzky and about eight others from L.A. flew up on Paul's jet on a golf exchange and to view the piece.

"At the last minute Wayne had to leave, but he'll see it next year."

The group toured the site by helicopter and then flew through the surrounding mountains -- and were instantly sold.

"We were also looking at another piece near Sooke, but this one blew it off the map.

"The previous [Egmont land] owner laid out a golf course, which is definitely something we'd look at down the road."

Noting that his roots are planted on the West Coast and that his early childhood was spent in Lake Cowichan, "I want to include the local [native] band," Courtnall says. "I see native art, masks, prints and culture being on display or for sale."

The group intends to meet with local officials and the Sechelt band to discuss the plans, he adds.

"If we can get the local people behind this, it will mean a lot of money for the area."

Although the land is still "a jewel in the rough," Geoff Courtnall says that if the Sunshine Coast Regional District approves the rezoning, the initial investment could be worth $100 million, with as many as 200 full-time jobs.

Why the sports focus?

"My brother Russ is best friends with Wayne [Gretzky]," Courtnall says. "All my best friends are hockey players looking for recreation and an escape.

"This is B.C.'s best-kept secret. I've already got a list of 30 guys who want to come see it."

Those on the immediate-viewing list include players with the St. Louis Blues, who are in Vancouver to play the Canucks on Tuesday and will fly up to the site for a private viewing.

The lies presented above certainly have proved too good to be true. Make comments to this article in the forum.

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