The cameras will be rolling next week in downtown Chemainus.
A special event permit application by Minute-Road Production Limited for the filming of a Hallmark movie called The Baker’s Sons was approved by North Cowichan during a special council meeting Tuesday night.
Equipment started to arrive immediately on Wednesday, March 10. Filming takes place all next week from Monday, March 15 to Friday, March 19 along the Willow Street block between Victoria Street and Mill Street, with the Willow Street Cafe central to the story and the filming.
“They’re going to be using the building inside and out for the week as well as that block,” said Emily Weeks, managing director of the Chemainus and District Chamber of Commerce, who’s had some direct conversations with crew members.
“So far everyone from the crew’s been awesome keeping me informed what’s going on.”
The block will remain open for the duration of the filming, with some possible restrictions as directed by crew. The road will be entirely closed on Friday, March 19 from 2-8:30 p.m. while filming is in progress.
The choice of Chemainus for the filming is particularly good news for the tourist-based community that’s been especially hard hit by the pandemic. All COVID protocols will be followed. There will also be two full-time COVID-19 protocol compliance monitors on site.
“It does seem like they have a really well thought-out plan,” said Weeks.
There’s been short notice within the community, but everything is coming together quickly now, including the necessary approvals.
“The reason this special event application came before council – they don’t always need to – is because the duration of the event filming exceeds 72 hours or three days, which is part of the Delegation of Authority Bylaw,” noted Tammy Isaachsen, North Cowichan’s communications and engagement coordinator.
Willow Street Cafe will be closed throughout the week, as the film crews take over the premises.
“It’s pretty exciting,” said manager Naomi Sampson.
But fans of Sampson’s expecting to see her in a cameo role will be disappointed. She will be steering clear of the site, as will the rest of the regular staff.
“All in all, this is an exciting opportunity and this will help toward tourist recovery when things open up again,” enthused Weeks.
There will be about 80 people staying in the Best Western Plus Chemainus Inn while utilizing the restaurants and amenities in town.
The public will be prohibited from using the parking spaces located on Willow Street adjacent to the film site throughout the week.
Information handouts were being distributed to businesses and residences throughout the surrounding area from Waterwheel Crescent to just south of the Chemainus Theatre on Chemainus Road.
Other parking lots in the vicinity are being used by crews. Work trucks and washrooms will be situated at the Chemainus Theatre parking lot, the Western Forest Products parking area for cast trailers and crew parking and also the Anglican Church parking area.
Pedestrians are also advised there will be minor disruptions for those making their way along Willow Street for up to a couple of minutes at a time.
If the filming helps put Chemainus back on the map during COVID and afterwards in even the smallest way, it will be a win-win for the community.
And, besides, “I’ve always thought that block was perfect for Hallmark,” reasoned Weeks.