Camosun College in talks for new Greater Victoria movie studio

WatchLights, camera, Camosun? A new plan could see Camosun College launch a Greater Victoria movie studio. Tess van Straaten has the details.

A 10-acre piece of land at Camosun College’s Interurban campus in Saanich could be the location for a much-touted Greater Victoria film studio.

“This is an amazing opportunity for Camosun, it’s an amazing opportunity for our students and it’s a great economic opportunity for Vancouver Island,” says Geoff Wilmshurst, Camosun College’s vice-president of partnership.

Last year, the movie industry brought in a record-breaking $21 million in direct spending, with a total of 25 films and shows shot on the South Island.

But to get a much bigger piece of British Columbia’s $3.5-billion movie pie, a film studio and soundstage are needed.

“We’re aware of lots of interest,” Wilmshurst says. “We expect that a film studio here will be occupied immediately once it’s built.”

What makes this proposal different from other studio attempts in the last few years is the ability for Camosun to train movie industry workers.

Everything from electricians and carpenters to hair stylists and make-up artists are needed to help fill current shortages and meet the growing demand.

“Our trades programs line up completely with the film industry,” explains Wilmshurst. “In addition to that, 3D animation, which is hugely popular and a big requirement in the industry, is something we can offer.”

Camosun is starting exploratory talks with the Lexi Development Group to build a 20,000-square foot facility.

For Saanich’s mayor, who’s been working on getting a studio for the last 18 months and made it part of his election campaign, it’s a dream come true.

“It will deliver a diverse economic lift,” says Saanich mayor Fred Haynes. “It gives us an opportunity to grow our non-residential tax base, such that we can reduce the pressure for costs on our homeowners.”

If everything works out, it could be lights, camera, Camosun in about 18 months to two years.


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