How the elimination of the BC film tax break will affect the Vancouver economy
By Brittney MacDonald, Life & Style Editor
As we progress forward, new government, new political bills etc., it becomes important to stay informed of what could possibly affect us as young Vancouverites. It is also important to acknowledge when we see our political administration repeating mistakes from the past, in order to ensure that the negative affect on us is minimal at best. If you’re unsure what I’m talking about, I’m referring to the recent announcement regarding the changes to the tax breaks given to both local film makers and big budget productions that choose BC to film in.
Recently Christy Clark announced that she will be eliminating many of the tax breaks given to BC film. Her office has stated that this is to be done to benefit BC economically by having these productions give back to the province, as well as help control the influx of big budget filming which can be inconvenient to residents. To be perfectly honest, these statements are little more than propaganda, because when you examine similar situations from the past, this course of action has done nothing but harm the BC economy—the Vancouver economy in particular.
Vancouver also offers tax breaks for the technology and visual effects industries. However, for a short time these tax breaks were also eliminated. When this occurred, Vancouver’s booming tech and video game development industries crashed, because companies and studios could no longer afford to continue to produce in BC. Those companies that could afford to stay saw no point in remaining in Vancouver while major hub cities on the East Coast, like Toronto, still offered those same tax breaks. The effect on the BC economy was so detrimental that the government reinstated the tax breaks, but by this time the damage had already been done. The Vancouver economy never really recovered, and has only recently come to a mostly stable place, largely in part to the booming film industry and the revenue it provides.
Like the tech and visual effects industries, the old BC film tax breaks are still available on the East Coast. Predictably, Vancouver will lose the majority of the big budget film productions to Toronto. This will massively reduce the revenue that the municipalities receive. Every time a street is shut down or a government building is used, production companies pay large amounts of money to the municipality of that area in order to “rent” those streets or buildings for however long they need. Without this money, the municipality will most likely be forced to increase municipal taxes to make up for the deficit as municipalities will not benefit from the provincial taxes that Clark is instating.
So, you may be asking how this affects you. To put it simply, the Vancouver economy is dependent on BC film. Tourism and film are the two largest industries in Vancouver, and all others are greatly affected by the economic flow of those two titans. The unfortunate thing is that our tourism industry is interconnected with our film industry. People come to Vancouver because they see our city on TV or in movies, or to see celebrities that may be filming something here. You can see this for yourself if you examine the rise in tourism during the filming of Deadpool. Because these two industries are so large here, the majority of our young or entry level work force work within them, or in a job that is dependent on them, including anything within the food industry.
If the elimination of these tax breaks has the same affect that the temporary elimination of the tech tax breaks had, we can expect an economic crash, and one that is significantly larger than it was in the past. So my advice to you is to maybe rethink taking out that second or third student loan, and maybe secure a second part time job so that if one is eliminated or your hours are reduced you’ll have a fall-back. Also, start saving now, before the film projects that are in mid-production conclude.