Lumby officials aren’t budging from their long-standing policy of not pumping even a nickel into the Okanagan Film Commission.
The village’s 2015 budget was adopted Monday without any funds being directed towards the OFC, partly because no one from the agency appeared before them.
“They need to bring us their financials so we can look at them,” said Mayor Kevin Acton.
Fair enough, but Acton knows that the OFC reports annually to the Regional District of North Okanagan. Lumby is not part of RDNO’s grant function but Acton, as board vice-chairperson, is there to hear the entire discussion and he could provide the details to his council or ask the OFC personally to appear before his council.
Council is also well aware of the fact that movies have been filmed in the community, so the connection between grants and economic development benefits should be blatantly obvious.
Acton’s biggest concern appears to come from the OFC lobbying producers and location scouts when they are deciding if the region meets their needs.
“We’re accountable to our taxpayers. We aren’t going to pay for someone to wine and dine people,” said Acton.
“We’re not in the business of buying business.”
But the reality is there is extreme competition among B.C. and North American communities to host film crews so enticing them here with nice hotels and meals is part of the game. And the investment pays off because the total economic impact from 20 productions in the Okanagan in 2014 was $17.5 million. Some of that got dropped in Lumby area businesses.
At a time when Lumby is scrambling for job creation opportunities, it’s firm stance against the Okanagan Film Commission is surprising.