Dongdu International Group, a developer based in Shanghai, has purchased 1,200 hectares of forested land in a remote part of the eastern Canadian province of Nova Scotia and plans to build a luxury resort there for wealthy Chinese people.
The move reflects the growing trend for Chinese capital to invest in real estate overseas and has reportedly shocked the locals – though Nova Scotian officials are enthusiastic about the proposals.
In a promotional video on the company’s website, Dongdu chairman Marvin Li said: "We hope to have a beautiful resort to attract young Chinese, especially people working in IT, to start their business in Nova Scotia."
Nova Scotia is a largely rural province historically dependent on industries that have declined in recent decades, such as fishing, mining and shipbuilding.
This is wonderful for the municipality. We welcome them– Michael Mosher, warden of the District of St. Mary’s
The development in sparsely-populated Guysborough County is part of Dongdu’s wider vision for tourism and other developments in Nova Scotia. The company signed a memorandum of understanding with municipal and business development officials there in May.
Provincial newspaper The Chronicle-Herald reported that Dongdu helped establish a tourism student exchange program between the tourism program at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax and China East Normal University in Shanghai.
This week the paper reported that engineering and survey work is underway at the site, located at Indian Harbour Lake.
"Site design is not yet complete so this is holding up physical construction," said Stephen Dempsey, local spokesman for Dongdu, adding, "We might get something in the ground this construction season, but it will be close."
"The access road is about 3.5 kilometres long, and the intention is to have eco-gardens and bridges crossing watercourses before you even get to the vehicle park," said Dempsey. "Then on the site itself you travel in electric vehicles."
Financial details have not been disclosed.
This is Dongdu’s second foray into North America. Last September the company purchased two skyscrapers in downtown Detroit for $13.6m.
The warden of the District of St. Mary’s, the municipality responsible for Indian Harbour, welcomed the project.
"This is wonderful for the municipality," Michael Mosher told The Chronicle-Herald. "We welcome them."