The South Island Film and Media Commission, which works to attract productions such as the TV series Gracepoint, shown here filming in Oak Bay in 2014, is helping business and municipalities to create a film studio. (Black Press Media file photo)

Five Greater Victoria sites under consideration for region’s first film studio

Saanich mayor pushes for creation of a studio in Greater Victoria

Work is underway to finally build a proper film studio in Greater Victoria.

The demand for a film studio has been around for years, almost as long as the rumours, said Kathleen Gilbert, commissioner of the Vancouver Island South Film and Media Commission.

“We get calls on a regular basis from shows, from studios, looking for the kind of studio space we can’t provide, and we’ve definitely lost shows because of that in the past.”

Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes pledged during his 2018 election campaign that he would work to bring a long-rumoured film studio into the region, if not Saanich.

READ MORE: Mayor elect wants to study idea of adding film studio, hockey arena to Saanich

It’s all part of a multi-pronged approach to expand Saanich’s economic base, said Haynes.

“It’s about creating a high knowledge-, culture- and sports-based economy. To do this we can look at opportunities for film studios, a velodrome, a new ice hockey surface, hotels, an IT hub and an entertainment-Casino complex.”

Saanich staff confirmed five locations are currently being considered, though a studio could also go elsewhere.

“With regard to the film studio we are already seeing considerable interest from investors, land holders and the creative and digital communities,” Haynes said.

READ ALSO: Third rink needed immediately at Pearkes, users say

Gilbert expects that a film studio could be up and running by 2020.

“There are a number of groups crunching numbers, looking for land, whether it’s a retrofit building, or a new purpose-built. One of those groups will be successful,” Gilbert said. “Production companies struggle to use it. We need a purpose-built studio.”

Without a proper studio the Roundhouse in Vic West has likely hosted more shows than it would have as it has electrical, heat and hydro issues. In the late 1990s film crews shot in what Gilbert called “an oversized shed” on DND property.

Over the last year at least three different film companies have used the vacant Canadian Tire space off Douglas Street but it’s nowhere near adequate, Gilbert said.

Ideally, a studio would be located within range of the airport and ferries but also close enough to five star restaurants and hotels for the liking of marquee talent.

“If big stars are coming to live in your region for years at a time they’ll want hotels and restaurants to go to and to take their families to,” Gilbert said. “A lot goes into the location. For one thing, you can’t have actors stuck in traffic, so you want the best package overall.”

Gilbert and representatives from the commission are heading to L.A. to line up tenants for the new studio.

“When we go, we are trying to find a company that is looking for a place to call home such as Netflix, or Disney, who has a good television series that will employ people for eight months of the year.”

The way a studio would work can vary. There are family-run studios on the Lower Mainland that started with retro-fit warehouses, while there is also the 15-acre Bridge Studio outside Vancouver that the province built and ran until it sold privately in 2007.

reporter@saanichnews.com


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Construction at Clover Point pump station causes wastewater spill

Residents advised to stay out of water near Clover Point

Grieving together, but apart: How funeral homes are handling the pandemic

‘Hugs are so important and right now hugs can’t happen’

Sidney Lions, Peninsula-raised designer craft nearly 200 masks for area seniors

182 masks were distributed to four Saanich Peninsula care homes

What Sooke School District schools will look like on first day of reopening

No water fountains, rotating schedules and face masks not required

Saanich residents sound alarm after second owl dies of rat poison

Great Horned Owl found in Kings Park killed by three rodenticides

Vancouver Island bride held wedding in seniors home so dying stepdad could walk her down aisle

Ceremony held amidst pandemic in order to fulfill bride’s wish to have stepdad give her away

‘I knew what he wanted’: Kootenay man spends hours in tree as black bear patrols below

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

PHOTOS: U.S. cities brace for increasing unrest over police killing of George Floyd

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has fully mobilized the state’s National Guard

$200,000 Maybach impounded after ‘L’ driver caught excessively speeding in Vancouver

Meanwhile, the supervisor sat in the passenger seat, police said

Yukon ready to lift COVID travel restrictions with B.C. in July: premier

Premier Sandy Silver says the territory’s health-care system can cope with the virus.

‘It is dire:’ Study finds B.C. logging continues on critical caribou habitat

The federal Species At Risk Act requires provinces to identify critical habitat for caribou herds

Feds looking at ways to reunite families amid COVID-19 border restrictions with U.S.

Some families with members of dual-citizenship have become separated due to the pandemic

Telegraph Cove Resort will open June 1 to self-contained campers only

Washrooms, showers and all other amenities will remain closed for now

B.C. aquaculture farm’s employees sweat it out to raise funds for food banks

For every five minutes of exercise recorded, Cermaq Canada is donating a dollar to local food banks in communities they operate

Most Read