The City of Kamloops is looking to permit the film industry amidst rising demand for scenes of Kamloops on screen.
Mount Paul is among iconic locations prominently displayed in The Power Rangers movie, which was filmed in Kamloops in 2016, and demand has culminated in the city’s best-ever year for film production, with nine productions to date in 2021.
The city’s external relations liaison, Sarah Candido, told KTW the city has charged film production companies for business licenses, parking fees and contractor work in the past. Now, it is hoping to recover costs for staff time via a new permit.
“In the past, the city hasn’t had enough filming per year that it was really worth it from the city’s perspective,” Candido said. “The last couple of years filming has really increased. This year, it’s been the most we’ve ever had in town.”
The city’s new film permitting bylaw would see commercial film productions charged a fee of $125 and charity, non-profit and student productions charged $25. Security deposits of $5,000 will be required of commercial film productions and a municipal staff hourly rate of $75 will also be applicable.
Candido said for-profit films will be the target of the new permitting fees.
“Collaboration from the city,” Candido said when asked what the films will get for their money. “When a film comes to town, typically they will contact the city to tour city locations. They will contact the city for figuring out the process for filming.”
Examples of collaboration with the city include facilitating filming outside of the city’s noise bylaw and reservation of parking stalls for vehicles. The city may indicate need to put out notice to a neighbourhood or require traffic control. The new permit is not expected to significantly increase city coffers, but is focused around cost recovery.
“The city of Kamloops is a really great place to film,” Candido told KTW. “We want to make sure our residents are happy and comfortable with that and not paying for it out of their own pockets.”
The issue went before council on Sept. 28, with council voting 8-0 (Coun. Arjun Singh was the lone council member absent) to give the proposed film permitting bylaw three readings before adoption at a later date.
One the bylaw is adopted, permits are expected to be implemented in the coming months, but films already under production in Kamloops will not be impacted.
Coun. Denis Walsh suggested charging more. However, Candido said it is important to set the fee at a rate that will keep Kamloops competitive with other communities. Candido told KTW the city has limited control over film productions coming to the city, crediting the Thompson-Nicola Regional District film commissioner Vicci Weller for bringing more activity to Kamloops.
“We just try and present the best place that we can and the best collaborative structure that we can,” Candido said.
Walsh also expressed concern about potential desire by film productions to utilize city parks during peak times for residents. At what point, he asked, does economic value supersede value of a city asset by the public?
Candido said the city makes the decisions internally. A request was made on Sept. 28 to film in Peterson Creek Park, for example, and Candido said questions go back to the film company about what times of the day are being requested and whether the public can maintain access.
“Public has to have access to the park,” Candido told council. “That isn’t, at this time, something that the city has cut off to the public at all. The decisions are made not by myself alone. They’re very collaborative.”
Christian touted economic spinoffs of the film industry, including spending on hotel rooms and in restaurants.
Coun. Bill Sarai suggested that, if the industry continues to grow in Kamloops, it could in the future lead to funding arts and culture initiatives.