A city committee is directing administration and Economic Development Lethbridge (EDL) to explore the creation of a policy to streamline the process for film companies interested in working in Lethbridge.
“We know that filming and television goes on in Lethbridge. What opportunities are we missing out on?” asked Coun. Jenn Schmidt-Rempel, a member of the economic standing policy committee.
“It’s time for us to start building some policies and framework in place so we can get ahead of these questions and be a part of this industry.”
EDL CEO Trevor Lewington says filming requests come to him, the city and the University of Lethbridge, with no clear direction on where they should go.
He wants to see Lethbridge take advantage of an industry that, according to Invest Alberta, generated nearly half-a-billion dollars in direct economic impact across the province last year.
“Lethbridge has historically not necessarily gotten its fair share, in my mind,” Lewington said.
“We’ve had a number of TV and film productions in our city and in our region, but I think there’s an opportunity to go after more than that.”
The town of Fort Macleod has seen multiple projects come through the municipality, including Ghostbusters: Afterlife and more recently, HBO’s The Last of Us.
And while officials see an economic boost when film crews come to town, they add the impact lasts much longer than the production period.
“Almost the best return is after the movies have come and people want to revisit your town to see some of those sites that have been in the movies,” said Liisa Gillingham, director of community and protective services for the Town of Fort Macleod.
“This film-induced tourism is a phenomena that is happening around the world,” Lewington said.
“I think there’s an opportunity to better promote Lethbridge so we benefit.”
"I THINK THERE'S AN OPPORTUNITY TO BETTER PROMOTE LETHBRIDGE SO WE BENEFIT."
Such an impact is one that Schmidt-Rempel hopes the city can take advantage of.
“Let’s secure our spot in this industry and let people know that we’re interested and we want people to come to Lethbridge to film,” Schmidt-Rempel said.
The economic standing policy committee will receive a report on Sept. 28.