A Dark Day for Toronto’s Film industry…

Talk about scandalous mismanagement of an incredible asset.

The Marine Terminal Studios, one of Toronto’s best, and the closest to downtown, had four studios and five office suites that will not be available anymore to the film industry.

TEDCO CEO Jeffrey Steiner single-handedly overturned a 2002 TEDCO Board decision to let the 175 Queens Quay property stay as a film studio until the TWRC needed to move in for redevelopment. The TWRC doesn’t need the property until September 1st, but Steiner pulled the trigger on a 2-month eviction notice back in December, requiring the film studio to be shut down by February 21st, 2007, for some mystery project called “Symphony”. The Mayor claims Symphony is an important “jobs-related project”, but few projects could generate the jobs and economic activity of even one feature film’s impact on the local economy with high-paying jobs, facilities rentals, locations rentals, equipment rentals, vehicle rentals, catering etc. and taxes and fees on almost everything.

With the Marine Terminal Studio terminated and no replacement space, that’s four feature films, at an average budget of $20 – $30 Million CDN, that will NOT be able to film in Toronto in 2007. As a result, all of that money and thousands of both direct and spillover jobs will go to other film locales like New York and New Orleans, and those locales will be strengthened by Toronto’s lack of replacement studios for the Marine Terminal. Great economic development initiative, TEDCO!

Sad and bad for the film industry, but conveniently TEDCO’s favourite little pet company Toronto Film Studios (TFS) will be full to capacity with less overall competition in the City. As if it wasn’t criminal enough that TEDCO leased TFS the old Harkow building on Commissioners Street with NO competitive bidding process (letting taxpayers AND film producers both get fleeced), allowed TFS to negotiate for the Mega Studio lands while at the same time applying to rezone and remove their existing studios (that’s called collateral enrichment, or bonusing, which TEDCO cannot legally do), and paved the way to a virtual monopoly for TFS by prohibiting all other film rentals in the Portlands (that moronic move speaks for itself – Montreal has a studio monopoly and is now the Hollywood producer’s city of last choice).

Jeffrey Steiner has been holding back the film industry from its true potential for years by keeping a chokehold on potential film properties, like the old Abitibi building that was kept away from film uses back in 2005. That could have been a new facility right there, but TEDCO’s lawyers claimed it would contravene the non-competition clause. Now Steiner’s actively shutting down competitors so that the Mega Studio appears successful when it finally opens, over three years later.

Where the hell are you, real journalists? You guys were all over Eisen on the Stavro deal, but you’re letting the film industry get dismantled by this maniac right in front your eyes!

Mayor Miller’s hands are dirty on this. Two years ago when the film industry cried foul, he tried to calm them, stating that there was no deal yet, and that it would go to council for approval first. Then the hypocrite turned around and publicly signed the lease on live television, 2 weeks before council even had the chance to look at it! Their hands would be tied and he knew it, so the 99-year lease, non-competition clause, the non-relocation of the Marine Terminal and all of the other questionable details of this deal went through anyway.

Now he’s ramped up to fight a near-impossible OMB decision to try and save artists’ homes and jobs in the west end. If that blonde bonehead had any sense, he would have fought TEDCO to keep the Marine Terminal open to protect high-quality film industry jobs until the Mega Studio scam project opens at least. Will Miller show the same bravado with the OMB when they approve the Wal-Mart development at 629 Eastern Avenue and destroy even more studio space and the character of the Eastern-Carlaw area? Doubtful…

That scammer Steiner obviously knew Miller needed a waterfront project up and running before election time, and the Mega Studio land scam also conveniently kept TEDCO in the waterfront game in an era when the TWRC was supposed to take over. Symphony is just another unilateral land grab, in a desperate attempt for TEDCO to stay relevant, with some broker no doubt lined up for a huge payday (just like the “Project 24/7” deal a couple of years ago).

So much for all the public consultation by the TWRC on our waterfront – Steiner leapfrogged the whole process with his deals, public be damned. Steiner must have a compromising photo of our Mayor to be getting away with all this… Poor John Campbell at the TWRC must have a Steiner punching bag at home for therapy.

RIP Marine Terminal Studios… prepare for more lean times, film industry…

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