A local watchdog appears satisfied with comments from Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes about the costs of a proposed film studio for the municipality.
“As we indicated to you in our email [of March 19, 2019], if there were no cost implications to the municipality then that would deal with our concerns,” said Bruce Kennedy, a board member of the Grumpy Taxpayer$ of Greater Victoria, in a response to Haynes.
The group had earlier asked Haynes if there “any cost or resource implications to the municipality being discussed regarding the proposed movie studio which you have been publicly supporting?”
Haynes has been a vocal supporters of bringing a film studio to the area, a goal that received a major boost last month, when Camosun College and Lexi Development Group announced they had reached an agreement to look into the feasibility of a film studio, a sound stage and educational facilities near the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence (PISE).
“As I have indicated in public on several occasions, there are no costs asked of the municipality,” said Haynes in an email to Kennedy.
Should Saanich receive an application to build a studio near PISE, Saanich would commit its normal staff resources to review and process such application, just like another application that the municipality, said Haynes, adding that the process of application would also include a time commitment from council, and residents for engagements managed by Camosun College. But that would be the extent of it, he said.
While the process of bringing a studio to Saanich remains in its early stages, it could open in 2022. Current estimates say the proposed facility could cost anywhere between $25 and $45 million.
The provincial industry generates about $3.4 billion annually and employs 60,870 people. The region, however, only captures a small fraction of this share, because it lacks the necessary physical infrastructure and personnel, according to local film industry leaders and advocates, who argue that a studio would allow the region to attract more lucrative productions.
Municipal leaders starting with Haynes meanwhile see the studio as an economic development opportunity.