The on again-off again negotiation over the Muskoka Regional Centre is back on.

This past Tuesday Gravenhurst council approved staff recommendations to renew negotiations with the province over the future of the 175-acre property.

The choice piece of real estate owned by the provincial government north of Gravenhurst on Lake Muskoka has been sitting idle for two decades.

Gravenhurst Town Council has made no secret it would like to see the land used and had been negotiating a sale to a private consortium for a Chinese Canadian boarding school.

“We feel our efforts to revive this process with the Province have been heard. We’re pleased that they are ready to resume dialogue with us, and seriously explore the proposal from Maple Leaf Education Systems and Knightstone Capital Management to redevelop the Muskoka Regional Centre property in Gravenhurst,” said Mayor Paul Kelly.

Following an original proposal by the proponent in 2017 to redevelop the property, which was ultimately rejected, the  Province intended to place the property on the open market, however, began undertaking lengthy negotiations with another proponent which eventually failed to come to fruition.

“Council’s decision to continue on with the negotiation in this manner, gives the municipality the greatest level of control over the property, and it will ensure that our strategic goals of creating high end, year-round employment in the area, as well as provide the community with additional benefits are met,” said Kelly.

This school is a different group than the currently planned school build in Bracebridge.

“At this time, we have informed Infrastructure Ontario that the Town is interested in continuing the process of brokering a deal between the Joint Venture, the Municipality and the Province.  Maple Leaf Schools intends to move forward with their original proposal to open a private international educational facility in Gravenhurst,” said Glen Davies, chief administrative officer. “As the Mayor has indicated, this proposal best aligns with Council’s strategic goals,” he added.

“There will be lots more information to come and further engagement with the community, but we are optimistic that we are again heading in the right direction,” said Davies.

The former mental health facility was closed in 1994.