Ottawa

NCC considers film hub in the Greenbelt

The National Capital Commission is launching consultations on a proposal to develop a $40-million sound stage campus and creative hub on land across from the Nepean Sportsplex.

New creative hub, sound stage campus would generate more than 500 jobs, city says

The Greenbelt Research Farm was built by Agriculture Canada in the 1960s and acquired by the NCC in 2000, the city said. Since then, many of the buildings have remained vacant. (Simon Lasalle/CBC)

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  • The NCC board voted unanimously to allow a film studio to be built at its meeting on Nov. 22.

The National Capital Commission (NCC) is launching consultations on a proposal to develop a $40-million sound stage campus and creative hub on the site of the former Greenbelt Research Farm. 

Ottawa Film Office and TriBro Studios, which submitted the proposal, said it would be built at 1740 Woodroffe Ave., across from the Nepean Sportsplex.

The 9.86-hectare project would create more than 500 new cultural sector jobs in TV, film and animation, city officials said in a press release issued Monday.

Bruce Harvey, Ottawa's film commissioner, said the lack of a sound stage in Ottawa has been a barrier to the local industry.

"The industry over the last few years has seen some remarkable growth. All of that growth has come from dramatic series; [but] the key about dramatic series, though, is they require sound stages," Harvey said.

"Otherwise, you have someone set up on your block for the next seven years with film trucks trying to film the house that they need or the police station they need. It's very critical to have a sound stage so that you can build your sets inside that. You have a controlled environment and you can shoot for 12 months out of the year."

Bruce Harvey, the city's film commissioner, says a sound stage would help the city continue to expand in the area of dramatic series. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

'Industry would grow exponentially'

There has been talk about a sound stage coming to Ottawa since 2012.

Harvey said the location works in part because of its close proximity to the existing talent pools at Algonquin College and in the animation industry, as well as easy access to the Ottawa airport and nearby trains at Fallowfield Station.

He expects the proposed film studio would have enough space for one or two series to shoot at the same time and he estimates each could bring in about $20 million to the local economy. 

He said there's been a spike in demand and industry research from Film Ontario said $260 million worth of sound stage work was refused in the province because of a lack of capacity.

"If we could get a small portion of that to come to Ottawa and to stay here, the industry would grow exponentially," Harvey said.

The President of TriBro Studios, Peter Apostolopoulos, said he wants to capitalize on what is already a rising industry in the capital.

"Ottawa is doing really well on its own as a film and animation city," hetold CBC's All In A Day.

He said Ottawa draws in $150 million per year for live action animation, "and there's not a single sound stage in Ottawa, so this is a real opportunity."

Mayor Jim Watson said some kind of development like this had been in the works, but now the right partner is present to follow through.

"They think we have the right geography, the right talent pool and it's really the piece of the puzzle that's been missing for a long time to bring us to the next level, on par with cities like Toronto and Vancouver," Watson said.

The Greenbelt Research Farm was built by Agriculture Canada in the 1960s and acquired by the NCC in 2000, the city said. Since then, many of the buildings have remained vacant.

Greenbelt Research Farm offers 'brilliant' filming locations

3 years ago
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The Greenbelt Research Farm's mineral pits, forests and farmland offer producers great locations for filming, said Bruce Harvey, the city's film commissioner. 0:43

Feedback session set for Sept. 5

Because the land is part of the Greenbelt, the city and the NCC are arranging for the "naturalization" of a former golf course in the Lester Wetlands to offset the studio's impact.

"The golf course is now out of business," said Watson. "That will be twice the amount of green space as what we're taking from the Greenbelt for the film studio.

"Most of the land [for] the film studio was not green space, it's paved roads. I think there's 17 kilometres of paved roads and dozens of buildings, so we're not actually taking pure virgin green space."

Watson said the sound stage will not cost the city money and the studio will be leasing the land from the NCC.

The NCC is asking members of the public to provide feedback at 5 p.m. on Sept. 5 at the location of the proposed project.

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