New Agricultural Land Commission rules on rural filming could curtail film crews from working in Langley Township – and around the province.
The MacInnes family has a 96-acre farm, growing hops, hazel nuts, and other crops. They also host a small film set on less than an acre of their site.
“The money from the film industry is what allows us to continue as a farm,” said Melanie MacInnes. They use the filming revenue to expand and enrich their soils, adding more cropland.
“It’s a real staple of farmers around here, to make a supplemental income,” said her brother Kevin MacInnes.
Now they’re trying to find out if changes to ALC guidelines could curtail filming.
The ALC updated numerous guidelines in October, 2016.
A new policy includes rules for “gathering for an event,” including weddings, festivals, and film and theatrical production.
The rule only allows up to 10 days of “events” per year on an Agricultural Land Reserve property, and they must be single-day events.
“Very rarely does a film production work for a single day,” said Val Gafka, Langley Township’s senior manager of corporate administration.
But ALC CEO Kim Grout says the new rules aren’t that strict.
“We’re not looking to ban filming,” she said.
The ALC is taking a look at permanent construction or land alteration – for which a non-farm use permit would be needed.
Even if the project only films for one day, setup and teardown of equipment can take a day or two on either side.
The MacInnes farm hosts filming of When Calls the Heart, a Hallmark drama, that has returned each year for several years. They are planning to film a fifth season at the farm, but Kevin is worried that the production company will leave for the States if the ALC regulations are enforced.
For now, filming is continuing under Township permits. The MacInnes family is applying for a non-farm use permit from the ALC, but that could take six months to process.
Langley Township is trying to work with the LEC, on coming up with a way to allow ALR land owners to keep filming.