The TV series Gracepoint filmed scenes in Oak Bay in 2014. (Black Press Media file photo)

The TV series Gracepoint filmed scenes in Oak Bay in 2014. (Black Press Media file photo)

Saanich mayor holds B.C. NDP to campaign promise to fund movie studio study

South Island candidates promised $150,000 to develop business plan

A movie studio proposed for Saanich could be one step closer to reality as Mayor Fred Haynes prepares to hold the B.C. NDP to its promise to invest $150,000 in the project.

On Oct. 16, the local NDP candidates Murray Rankin for Oak Bay-Gordon Head, Lana Popham for Saanich South and Rob Fleming for Victoria-Swan Lake announced that a re-elected NDP government would contribute to a feasibility study for the film studio proposed for Camosun College’s Interurban campus.

“We have the skilled people and the stunning locations to attract international productions to the south Island. The only thing holding us back is that we don’t have the competitive sound stages,” Rankin said at the time.

Popham called the proposed film studio project “a true community effort” with all parties striving to make the south Island “a competitive force in film and TV production.” The facility would feature production stages, sound and editing facilities, green screen amenities, classrooms and production offices.

Haynes was “delighted” by the B.C. NDP promise and with the party celebrating a projected win following the Oct. 24 election, he’s optimistic but plans to wait until MLAs are settled before approaching the province.

“It’s all about timing,” he explained, hoping to avoid being at the bottom of a large pile of paperwork.

A film studio would create a new economic base that could help revitalize the region’s economy amid the pandemic, Haynes said.

Last year, 384 major productions were filmed in B.C. and contributed some $3.2 billion to the province’s economy. The south Island only saw a fraction of the funds as there are currently no sound stages in the region large enough to host major productions, Haynes said. The studio imagined for Camosun would include three large sound stages.

Haynes added that the province’s handling of COVID-19 has drawn producers to B.C. and with the Island’s low case numbers, he predicts it will be a filming hotspot once a movie studio goes in – especially because the region can spoof many other parts of the world.


@devonscarlett
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