The Regional District of Nanaimo is going to establish a new regional economic development service that will provide funding to the Vancouver Island North Film Commision (INfilm).
The board, at its committee of the whole meeting on Oct. 10, directed staff to create the new service that would provide an annual funding of $50,000 to INfilm, which promotes the region as a prime location for film, television and commercial productions.
INFilm does not have a dedicated source of funding and relies on fundraising, which takes a considerable amount of its time and impacts the level of service it provides the film industry. The commission has requested from the RDN a secure and stable source of funding.
Last year, the RDN and member municipalities provided $45,000 to INfilm. At present, INfilm has funding applications for 2017 to the RDN, City of Parksville ($10,000), Town of Qualicum Beach ($5,000) and City of Nanaimo ($30,000). The proposed RDN service will establish a centralized funding model that would all the participating municipalities, as well as electoral areas ($5,000), to each forward funds to the regional district.
The RDN will enter into an agreement to provide INfilm with $50,0000 annually for a period of three years. It will be reviewed annually to ensure that objectives are being met.
The value of the work INfilm provides to the regions it serve has economic and social benefits. Last summer, Chesapeake Shores, a Hallmark Channel TV series in the United States, filmed part of its second season in Parksville, Qualicum Beach and surrounding areas. RDN’s long-range planning manager, Paul Thompson, said in his report to the board that filming that takes place in the region has economic spinoffs, in particular the hiring of local businesses to provide services such as accommodation, rental of equipment, catering and construction. Thompson added that film also induces tourism.
Estimates from INfilm show that they have facilitated more than $100 million in direct economic impact to the regions they service on northern Vancouver Island. INfilm president Stephanie Tipple, in a letter to the RDN, indicated the motion picture and recording industry is the fastest-growing industry in British Columbia, has created at least $2 billion in spending in 2016 and is on track to grow even more this year.
“According to the Workforce B.C. Industry Outlook Profile, the industry is expected to experience above-average growth and is expected to be the fastest-growing industry in terms of employment,” said Tipple. “This puts INfilm in a unique position within the film industry to expand regionally outside the successful, yet saturated, area of Vancouver and the entire lower mainland area, as our 20 years of networking has resulted in close relationships with location (finding) decision makers.”
The majority of the board said it finds the service provided by INfilm to be worthwhile.