OPINION: Caught in the camera eye


The municipality’s plan to hire a movie officer for a year has us peering through the proverbial lens with a furrowed brow.

Spending nearly $135,000 – including $80,000 – for a film lobbyist for the economic development department seems excessive.

The person will act as a liaison for the fledgling FLiCK (Filming Locally in Chatham-Kent) office.

Yes, the film industry in Ontario is a $3-billion-a-year business.

Yes, Chatham-Kent has numerous unique downtowns and other locations where film companies can work. One of those is the old jail, where film production took place recently.

Two Great Lakes make for wonderful backdrops.

We have some hidden gem properties that could be utilized.

It is estimated by municipal administration that about 30 per cent of a film project’s budget goes into the communities in which the film is shot. That’s great for hospitality and rental businesses.

But at what level of filming does the new position become financial justified. Is there a rate-of-return threshold established by the municipality? What justifies the $135,000 (potentially annual) price tag? There doesn’t seem to be any specific barometer to measure success.

Why can’t the municipality expand an existing staff member’s powers to include the film element? Or involve the entire economic development department to some extent.

Most everyone in the municipality would love to see numerous film and television projects filmed here. We just don’t see any math on this one.

Granted, this is a one-year trial position, with the municipality drawing from the strategic development reserve fund to pay for the salary and other expenses.

The one-year cash coverage comes from reserves. But where did that funding initially come from? The taxpayers.

If it becomes permanent position, we’re on the hook for that annually.

Consider this: Based on municipal figures, you can build three tiny houses each year with that money to help address our homeless issue.

We certainly hope Chatham-Kent becomes another outlet of Hollywood North, but we are curious how many flicks will be considered a success for the new FLiCK lobbyist.


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