Toronto is expanding several clusters for the creative industries
Source：The Globe and Mail
From：Taiwan Trade Center, Toronto
While COVID-19 may appear to have forced a wrap for the film industry, the fact is there is now so much demand for production space that encourages studios to expand in Toronto. Recently, new studios are being built in several creative clusters in the Greater Toronto Area, namely Port Lands, Mississauga and Hamilton.
Toronto’s Port Lands is a redevelopment zone east of the city core, and its advantage is its proximity to diverse locations throughout Toronto that can stand in for almost any city in North America. A pioneer in the Port Lands, Cinespace Film Studios, is expanding with an additional 165,000 square feet of production space. As one of several production centres located in Port lands, Pinewood Toronto Studios also broke ground on an expansion in November 2020. According to Geoff Grant, the General Manager of Pinewood, the pandemic has only forced a pause in production but neither the studios clients have changed their production plans nor Pinewood has altered the course on their expansion plans. Instead, Pinewood has been turning away viable production because of the lack of available space. Pinewood’s complex currently has 11 stages, including Megastage, the second largest in North America. After the expansion, craft workshops and five more stages will be added by early 2021.
To the south of the Pinewood complex, a big site is about to add to the Port Lands creative cluster. CreateTO, the real estate agency of the municipal government of Toronto has invited proposals to build studios on an 8.9-acre former industrial site, renamed Basin Media Hub, that could include up to 500,000 square feet of creative spaces. The area is also expected to build a waterfront promenade with public access to double serve as a destination for the public.
Mississauga is another cluster where it sees an expansion in studio capacity. Industry equipment specialist William F. White International Inc. just opened its third production centre in Mississauga in February 2021. The company is continuing to scout for more production locations because there’s an increasing demand, says Rick Perotto, White’s vice-president of business development. White’s studio called the Whites Studios Cantay will include four studios as well as offices and wardrobe space. The Cantay facility is close to another new TV and film production hub in Mississauga, CBS Stages Canada, which opened in 2019, and is a 260,000 square feet complex that features six soundstages, production offices and support facilities.
Hamilton is another growing creative cluster. At the moment, there are 900 film-related businesses and 9,000 people employed in production in Hamilton. However, “there has not been a real film studio in the city” according to Jeff Aners, a co-founder of Aeon Studio Group, which has a master plan to build Hamilton into an international hub for film, television and digital media production called the Hamilton Studio District that will feature studios, offices, retail and residential space. Earlier, the Group announced plans to convert a former manufacturing plant in Hamilton into production studios, and very soon after the announcement, they had been receiving calls from prospective tenants. The new site will feature a 27,000 square feet clear-span mainstage with a 50-foot ceiling, 40,000 square feet of additional production space of varying ceiling heights, 6,500 square feet of furnished offices, and four acres of outdoor space suitable for backlot uses, as well as a paint shop with two paint booths. Aeon Studio Group sees great potential in Hamilton because although it is a top 10 Canadian city, it is not huge and within a small radius, you can find locations that look like other North American cities, or be able to set up to shoot in various scenes such as industrial setting, forest, suburbia, and post-apocalyptic setting.
Vic Gupta, the senior vice-president of strategic development of CreateTO is confident that “Hollywood is coming north because we’ve got the facilities and a skilled work force that’s world class,” along with a supportive film office that makes it easy to get permits around the city. “The industry is alive and well in Toronto,” Mr. Gupta says. According to the Toronto Economic Development agency, it provided more than 44,000 jobs in the Toronto area and pumped more than $2-billion into the local economy in 2019.