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Film industry pumped $408 mil into Burnaby

The television and film industry pumped $408 million into Burnaby's economy last year, according to a new report from the city.

The television and film industry pumped $408 million into Burnaby's economy last year, according to a new report from the city.

At the March 11 council meeting, staff was tasked with preparing a report to determine the impact the local film industry has had in Burnaby.

"The film industry really does have an extensive reach," Mayor Derek Corrigan said at the March meeting. "It's an important part of our economic development strategy. We designated it in the 1990s as an area we wanted to grow."

At Monday night's meeting, council reviewed the report, which states that at least $408 million was injected into Burnaby's economy in direct and spin-off spending.

"Notwithstanding this significant contribution to Burnaby, there is considerable concern about the challenges facing the industry in (B.C.), the significant decline in activity in the last quarter of 2012, and the slow start in 2013 in the industry generally," states Lou Pelletier, director of planning and building, in his report.

There were 131 productions made in the city, with an estimated production value of $153.6 million; 2,425 residents were directly employed as cast and crew with combined earnings of more than $32.9 million, and 72 businesses in the city directly support and serve the local film industry, according to the report's findings.

"Local studios report that a typical feature film hires between 600 to 800 local people for crews," Pelletier states.

The report lists 72 businesses that directly contribute to the industry, such as visual effects facilities, prop companies and animators but also notes other businesses that benefit from the industry's existence.

Production companies have many needs unrelated to actual production, including garbage disposal, cleaners, car rentals, gas, hair stylists, florists, meals and accommodation for cast and crew, according to the report.

The Burnaby School District also received about $51,973 last year for use of school and playground facilities. Meanwhile, the City of Burnaby received direct revenues of about $2.3 million in 2012 through permits, rental fees and administration fees.

"In addition to economic benefits, the community of Burnaby enjoys social, cultural and environmental benefits and contributions, which are attributable to the film and production industry," Pelletier states.

Production companies often provide compensation or gifts-in-kind. For instance, Robert Burnaby Park was closed to the public for filming, but was compensated with new tennis courts valued at $50,000 paid for by the production company, according to the report.

"Similarly, Burnaby has also acquired new turf on soccer fields, road repairs with extra drainage capacity added, roads and fences in Deer Lake Park, a mural to cover over graffiti and a $16,000 study room at Bob Prittie Library," the report states. "In addition, production companies make donations to local charities and sports groups, such as Burnaby Girls' Soccer, for the inconvenience caused when a production takes over facilities usually used by those organizations."

The report also discussed the challenges the industry faces, including how B.C. has fallen from third to fourth place in film production in North America - behind Los Angeles, New York and Ontario.

All councillors agreed that Canada should create a national strategy to attract film to the country, instead of having provinces compete with each other.

"Canada's industry is growing heaps and bounds," Mayor Derek Corrigan said. "(I) refuse to see B.C. lose out."

Corrigan added that he wants to see the competition between Canada and other countries, not provinces competing with each other.

"For Burnaby, reversing the declining fortunes of the B.C. film and television industry is an urgent issue," Pelletier states. "Inaction on reversing the decline of the industry in the latter part of 2012 and early 2013 would impact the overall health, quality of life and economic vitality of Burnaby, and would be a major detriment to our community, and to the province more generally."

Other and more lucrative tax incentives offered by Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba, copyright infringement and the PST have negatively affected B.C.'s film industry, the report states.

"It is estimated that the PST will cost the industry about $20 million a year in tax credits not received as compared to other jurisdictions," Pelletier states. "This arises as (B.C.) is the only province which applies a (PST) to the film and television production industry."

Pelletier states that staff contacted industry professionals, but were not able to get all information as some activity is "temporary and transient." The overall economic contributions are based only on features, television pilots, series and movies and short films. Commercials, still photos, music videos and documentaries are not included in the report's findings.

"It should be noted that figures cited in this report for both the economic value of productions and the overall economic contributions and benefits in the community have been developed on a conservative basis, and should be viewed as a minimum effect," Pelletier states. "To calculate such benefits, staff contacted the production or location managers of every production made in Burnaby in (2012) to obtain information."

Information was only available for 126 of the 131 productions. The information only came from the five purpose-built film studios in Burnaby.

Corrigan is expected to write a letter to the leaders of the political parties, informing them of Burnaby's film impact and of council's "desire that carefully reasoned and timely steps be taken to maintain (B.C.) as an attractive location for film and television productions." The provincial candidates and film-related unions may also be sent a copy of the report.

Copies of the report may also be sent to the Motion Picture Production Industry Association, Burnaby Board of Trade, Tourism Burnaby and the Lower Mainland Municipal Association.


How many?: There were 131 productions made in the city.

Employed: 2,425 residents were directly employed as cast and crew members on productions.

Businesses: 72 businesses in the city directly support and serve the local film industry.

Rental fees: Burnaby school district received about $51,973 for use of school and playground facilities.