White Rock has decided it wants to become more movie-friendly.
City council has endorsed recommendations from recreation and culture director Eric Stepura to invest some $10,000 in creating a marketing package aimed at actively pitching White Rock as a movie and television location, with the possibility of allocating a further $10,000 per year to promote the city to the film industry.
It’s not lost on the city that other areas, like Steveston and Fort Langley get a healthy financial boost and numerous spin-offs.
With a new movie studio established in Surrey – a city which actively courts the industry – the business is right on the doorstep, making it more convenient than ever to schedule shoots in White Rock.
But city councillors and staff may want to take a soul-searching look at what the city really has to offer the industry, and what it has in the past.
Even if we don’t give a fig about pandering to Hollywood North, such introspection may be worthwhile, as we also consider what can be done to revive a stagnant business community, particularly on Marine Drive, as well as attract tourism dollars to the city.
The appeal of Semiahmoo Bay, the pier and distant mountains to one side, White Rock must ensure that there is some other “there” in place to attract people, whether they’re pointing cameras or not.
It’s a fact that what has drawn moviemakers in the past – and continues to draw them to a degree – are surviving corners of the nostalgic seaside town that was, complete with its railway line along the waterfront (the sole reason that the legendary Buster Keaton filmed here in 1964).
The quaintness of old hillside cottages and businesses like the Five Corners Cafe have consistently attracted the industry – but at this moment one of the last ideal White Rock movie locations, the enclave of heritage homes on Elm Street, lies under the shadow of ‘redevelopment’.
Whether by accident, design or default, the city has been on a course of obliterating its heritage for years, and councillors have been unwilling or unable to designate any structures – outside of the museum and the pier – as worthy of preservation. Perhaps it’s finally time to reconsider that, before the last vestiges disappear.
It’s hard to see cookie-cutter condo buildings and boxy lot-consuming monster homes exerting the same appeal in White Rock, unless that’s what they’re writing movies about these days.