Liberal win good for Jumbo resort, but not film business
NDP had pledged to scrap Jumbo Glacier Resort, boost film tax credit
The unexpected Liberal victory in Tuesday’s provincial election is good news for B.C.’s business community — but not every industry is celebrating.
The Jumbo Glacier Resort west of Invermere — perhaps the most controversial development in B.C. — has been on the books for decades. The project was set to be scrapped under an NDP government, but the party’s defeat keeps the door open for Jumbo to proceed.
Liberal Bill Bennett, one of Jumbo's biggest boosters, says that's good news for taxpayers.
"It certainly means the proponent will have no cause to sue the Crown, the people of B.C., and that's a good thing," he said. "In terms of the proponent’s capacity to take the project forward, that ball is in their court."
Once completed, Jumbo will feature up to 23 lifts, a 3,000-metre-high gondola and a ski village with more than 6,000 units. The resort will be comparable in size to Silver Star in Vernon, B.C. — or about one-tenth the size of Whistler Blackcomb.
Jumbo spokesperson Grant Costello says there could be some limited skiing and training on Jumbo in the near future.
"We will be applying for a building permit at Farnham. That will be shortly, so we can have accommodation for teams," he said.
"If the zoning clears we can put up a tow that we've had in storage for a couple of years."
Film industry worried about collapse
But the Liberal victory isn’t being celebrated by everyone.
Those in B.C.'s movie and television business are worried about the future of the industry in light of the surprise win. Many had openly backed the NDP, which promised to raise tax credits to compete with Ontario and Quebec.
Gina Hole Lazarowich, an agent and producer in Vancouver, says business is down about 30 per cent over the last few years, and it seems unlikely there will be a turn-around with the Liberals back in power.
"Let’s not kid ourselves — business is business," she said.
"The producers in L.A. just look for who is giving the incentive, what's the bottom line for their movie-making and if the bottom line is it’s cheaper to make it in Ontario or Quebec or Louisiana — they would love to shoot here, but they're simply going to go there."
Hole Lazarowich has been in the industry in B.C. for nearly 15 years. Her husband has been a special effects coordinator for 25 but moved to Alberta after being unable to find work in B.C.
She says business continues to dry up here as producers look for better tax credits elsewhere.
"We love our industry, we love what we do and we're scared that it’s just going to go away."
Pete Mitchell, president of Vancouver Film Studios, is hopeful the Liberal government will step in if business continues to decline.
"We've certainly lost market share, we've lost jobs, and we've lost businesses," he said. "I don't know how long that can continue on before we get to some critical point."
The Liberals have said the tax credits being offered elsewhere are unsustainable.