Saanich film studio could boost economy post COVID-19, mayor says

Saanich film studio could boost economy post COVID-19, mayor says
WatchTalks of a film studio on the South Island have been going on for decades, but it appears the latest proposal has gained some traction. Ben Nesbit tells us how some in Saanich are working hard to make it happen.

The film industry has been thriving in the province in recent years, but there’s one missing piece.

It’s a vital element that could mean more jobs and more money for the economy here on Vancouver Island: a studio.

“We have great locations in Saanich. We have great opportunities in Saanich, but we don’t have movie studios,” said Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes.

On Monday night Saanich council will debate a recommendation to write a letter to the federal and provincial governments requesting financial support for a film studio.

The multi-building complex would be built on a 10-acre piece of land at Camosun College’s Interurban campus. Mayor Fred Haynes has been pushing for a studio for years and says it could be crucial for the financial recovery from the pandemic.

“Each movie studio would be about 18,000 square feet. There’s three of them in the plans, each studio has about 200 employees, so that’s about 600 direct employment jobs,” said Haynes.

Camosun declined to comment on the matter on Monday, but when the proposal was first brought to light last June, the school said it would be a great opportunity with their trades programs lining up perfectly with the film industry. And as the recovery process from COVID-19 begins, carpenters, hairstylists, electricians and other workers will be in high demand.

The film industry brings in roughly $3.5 billion into the B.C. economy every year. On the South Island, though the lack of a film studio keeps bigger budget productions away, a new studio could change everything.

“We could bring in shows that had budgets of $40-200 million. So each show could bring in almost as much indirect spend as we do bringing in 20 shows a year,” said Commissioner of the Vancouver Island South Film & Media Commission Kathleen Gilbert.

The estimated construction cost is $24 million. If the recommendation is approved, Saanich will be asking for $10 million.

Ben NesbitBen Nesbit

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