POLITICS

Small businesses worry changes for Nova Scotia filmmakers will hit bottom line

04/24/2015 01:03 EDT | Updated 07/23/2015 02:59 EDT
HALIFAX - Film professionals in Nova Scotia aren't the only ones worried by the recent changes to the province's film tax credit.

Small business owners said they would also be negatively affected, with some losing as much as 45 per cent of their income if film companies were to take their business elsewhere.

"I know very little about politics, and very little about the government and how it makes its decisions about who gets what. But I do know about my business," said Crissy McDow, owner of Airways Limo, at a news conference held by Screen Nova Scotia on Friday.

"And I know that if the film industry doesn't come here, or if the production companies pull out and go to another province that has higher incentives, I can't follow those people."

Haven, a popular science fiction TV series, has been filming in Chester and other towns along the south shore since 2010, and is not the first production to use the area.

"In the Chester municipality, everybody is either employed by Haven or knows somebody who is employed by Haven," said Jo-Ann Grant, director of the Chester Municipal Chamber of Commerce.

Grant credits the film industry with bringing in more than $1 million in revenue annually to Chester alone, which she fears would vanish if Nova Scotia's proposed tax credit changes proceed as planned.

Patricia Cuttell, executive director of the North End Business Association in Halifax, has similar concerns.

"In the past 20 years I've seen the film industry really mature, and a lot of economic spinoffs and developments happened from that," she said.

The government and film industry representatives reached an incentive agreement on Thursday after a week of talks. Similar to Alberta's model, the new regime would provide refundable base funding to all film production costs in the province, as well as offer other small incentives.

Though Screen Nova Scotia originally said they were satisfied with the new deal, some Nova Scotia filmmakers are questioning whether it will be enough.

Grant agrees with those who say the problem isn't solved.

"The real issue here is the uncertainty going forward," she said, adding that the unknown long-term ramifications of the deal will still dissuade companies from filming in the province.

"It takes a long time to plan these productions, so they're not something that you can turn the tap on, turn the tap off."