Downtown Squamish won't be the star of as many shows this year | Squamish Chief

Downtown Squamish won't be the star of as many shows this year

District not approving permits for daytime filming in downtown core until new policies are worked out to help businesses impacted by productions

 It is lights, camera, less action in downtown Squamish this summer.

The District is not approving any film permits this summer for filming on Cleveland between Pemberton Avenue and Victoria Street, according to Devon Guest, the District's arts and culture manager.

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“The District is committed to supporting the B.C. film industry while balancing the needs of the community.... The downtown Cleveland Avenue core has historically been host to numerous productions, and downtown businesses have expressed the desire to adopt stronger policies and procedures for how filming activities that impact their businesses and customers are conducted," Guest said in an email to The Chief.

"To that end, the District is working with the Downtown Squamish Business Improvement Association to develop such policies. While this is underway, and in consideration of how busy the downtown core currently is, we have not approved any film permits this summer for filming on Cleveland between Pemberton Avenue and Victoria Street during business hours."

Guest said there is a crew scheduled for the area mid-August, after business hours.

Filming to date this year in Squamish equates to 14 productions representing about 40 filming days, according to Guest.

Ed Archibald, president of the DBIA, said while productions are a welcome economic bfor Squamish, business owners on Squamish's main drag have been frustrated with the impact of the crews that come to town and slow or completely stop business at the downtown stores and shops around the film locations.

"The grumbling has been going on for some time about how the filming affects their businesses and their ability to sell their wares," he said. 

A production this spring spilled out onto the main drag, for example, costing four or five businesses around the one that had rented itself out to the production thousands in lost sales a day, according to Archibald.

"That went on for two days," he said, adding businesses then reached out to the DBIA who in turn reached out to the District.

"We have got to come up with a solution that works for everyone. Obviously, there's a lot of people in Squamish who work in the film and TV industry and it is an economic driver to the community. But it can't be an economic driver to the community at the detriment of our small businesses," he said.

Losing a few days of income is a big hit when you factor in rising property taxes, rising operating costs, rising lease rates, and the like, Archibald said.

"A lot of those small businesses just get by, so losing a day or two a day can be pretty detrimental in the long term, especially if it happens every couple of months."

The association wants to work out some kind of compensation that is more than the licensing fees that the District charges film crews.

"If there is going to be filming in front of businesses during daytime hours, what is the compensation that would be due to the business for closing their doors or, if they are open, the loss of sales."

The productions also take up parking, at a time when parking spots are at a premium as it is, he said.

In the fall, a working group will be struck that will include DBIA members and District staff that will look at long-term solutions, according to Archibald.

The Chief requested comment from Creative BC, an organization that champions the film industry, but has yet to hear back. We will update this story if that comment comes in.





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