Lights, camera, funding.
The Regional District of Nanaimo board of directors took action last week to boost the film industry on mid-Vancouver Island last week, when it gave three readings to a new bylaw to establish a regional economic development service to provide funds to the Vancouver Island Film Commission (INfilm).
Bylaw No. 1769, 2017 will now be forwarded to the inspector of municipalities for approval. Once that is done, the RDN will enter into a three-year agreement with INfilm, a non-profit organization, to provide funding of $50,000 to promote the region as a prime location for film, television and commercial productions. The deal also includes an annual review to ensure that objectives are being achieved.
The board, at its inaugural meeting on Nov. 14, was nearly unanimous in endorsing the new bylaw. Only Qualicum Beach director and Mayor Teunis Westbroek opposed it, as he felt Parskville Qualicum Beach’s funding contribution to the service was not fairly balanced with the electoral areas’ allocation.
“I still can’t figure out where these numbers come from, as far as the allocation,” said Westbroek. “Who decided on the numbers? Parksville Qualicum Beach… we’re about four times what the other areas contribute. The film industry goes to all these areas and they all benefit from this. Who comes up with this split of these numbers? It’s a mystery. Where did it come from?”
The cost of the new service was apportioned among all the participating areas in the regional district. Nanaimo would pay the biggest amount of $33,350 with the City of Parksville and Town of Qualicum Beach each contributing $5,500. The others participants are as follows: District of Lantzville $450, Electoral Area A $650, Electoral Area B $620, Electoral Area C $550, Electoral Area E $1,070, Electoral Area F $710, Electoral Area G $940, and Electoral Area H $560.
RDN manager of current planning Geoff Garbutt explained that the recommended funding for the new service was based on INfilm’s grant applications to all the participating municipalities in the region. This year, INfilm requested from Nanaimo $30,000, Parksville $5,000, and Qualicum Beach $5,000. INfilm also asked regional district’s electoral areas to provide a combined $5,000. The new service, Garbutt added, will make it easier for INfilm to apply for funding because they will get it from one source only.
Westbroek said he understands the contribution structure but disagrees on basing the allocated grants to rationalize how they should fund INfilm. He said Nanaimo by the size of its population will always be required to fork out more cash. But, he questions the electoral areas’ contribution. He wants them to come up with their fare share.
Just because they have the lowest tax rate per $100,000, Westbroek said, doesn’t mean they should pay less for this service. He pointed out the electoral areas already don’t pay the same share for policing and transportation.
“So we’re sending this kind of message that it’s OK; we’ll pay ten times more than the areas around us with the same amount of our people,” said Westbroek. “I don’t like it and I don’t understand it. I am voting against it.”
The work INfilm provides has economic and social benefits to the regional district, claimed one film producer. Chesapeake Shores, a Hallmark Channel TV series in the United States, filmed part of its first and second seasons the past two summers in Parksville, Qualicum Beach and surrounding areas.
Matt Drake, Chesapeake Shores producer, said production spent more than $2.6 million directly into local payroll. At the official opening of the Vancouver Island Film Studios in October, Drake also said $642,000 was spent in the Regional District of Nanaimo in building rentals and location fees which benefitted homeowners, business owners and municipalities.