Saanich is $150,000 closer to calling “Action!” on a film studio at Camosun College.
On Saturday (April 10), the province announced it would be following through on its campaign promise to fund a feasibility study for a proposed film studio and training facility at the college’s Interurban campus – near the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence.
Before the snap election in October, South Island 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 business study for the film studio.
“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.
Following the funding announcement, Rankin, MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head, emphasized that the investment is the first step towards determining just how local post-secondary students and the region would benefit from a film studio.
Popham added that the investment could help Camosun make its sound stage plans a reality and attract international productions while training the next generation of T.V. and movie industry workers.
The concept of bringing a movie studio to the region isn’t new.
Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes noted it’s been a “three-year journey of active work” from various stakeholders – Camosun College specifically has been in talks with potential partners since 2019 towards bringing a training facility and sound stages to the campus.
In March 2020, Saanich council approves the establishment of a movie studio in the Capital Regional District, citing the economic advantages and job creation.
Sherri Bell, president of Camosun, noted that bringing this infrastructure to the campus would provide educational opportunities ranging from carpentry and electrical programs to industry skills training programs such as digital animation.
“I’m just delighted we’ve gotten this far,” Haynes told Black Press Media on April 9. “This is the location on the South Island” for production companies as the region’s mild climate permits year-round filming and members of the industry “have already expressed strong interest.”
The $150,000 investment will go towards developing a business plan and design concept with community consultation, followed by requests for proposals from the private sector to construct the multi-million dollar facility, Haynes explained. Camosun will also be establishing an advisory committee to assist with the planning process.
He added that the province has also committed to spending just under $2 million to construct a new road off Interurban Road to the proposed studio site in an effort to “off-cycle” increased traffic related to productions as Saanich residents expressed concerns.