BC Premier Christy Clark took a tour of Bardel Entertainment in Kelowna Monday afternoon.
Bardel Entertainment is an animation studio that works with companies such as Nickelodeon, Warner Brothers, Sony, and others. Clark explained she toured Bardel Entertainment’s new location on Lawrence Avenue because the tech industry is now a billion dollar industry in the Okanagan, and it’s the type of economic diversification the region needs.
“We have to diversify the economy in the Okanagan,” she described. “We have forestry, agriculture, tourism, retirement, but we need businesses here that are going to be bringing in lots of young people and new ideas. It’s the tech industry that’s the future for the Okanagan Valley. I’m very excited, and I think we should be very proud that a local business like this one has attracted international attention the way it has.”
Clark added the provincial government as been helping in trying to promote the tech industry in the Okanagan.
“We’ve supported this business and the whole digital field with tax credits, especially pretty rich regional tech credits to encourage people to deploy outside of Vancouver. These regional tax credits have attracted a lot of people to come and invest in businesses here, but it’s also making sure the talent is available. We’re going to continue to invest in universities and colleges to produce the grads that businesses like this one need. And immigration of course is another one. Thirty percent of the people here (at Bartel Entertainment) are from other countries. You can’t build businesses and communities without people.”
Clark fielded questions on a variety of other topics while at Bardel Entertainment, including the possibility of a sound stage in Kelowna for the movie industry.
“The tax credit does extend to that here, and there’s a richer tax credit outside the lower mainland than there is inside the lower mainland, so what it would take is an entrepreneur that decides he or she wants to get that going here,” she said. “It won’t be the government that does it. We can do everything we can to encourage it by making sure talent is available, which it is, (and) by making sure tax credits are good enough to attract people here, which I think they are. I think Kelowna’s time for a movie studio is coming.”
The topic of trophy hunting, specifically with bears was brought up, and Clark defended the province’s stance on allowing it.
“We have a very, very healthy population of bears. It’s all scientifically managed, it’s very carefully done, there is absolutely no threat to the population of bears. The hunt supports a lot of family run businesses all across the province in very small communities, so my view is that as long as it’s done on a scientific basis, as long as it’s done humanely and carefully, it’s something that we have space to do in the province.”
She also addressed a wolf cull that is underway in the Kootenays, which she said is being done to protect an endangered species of caribou that will otherwise be wiped out of BC. She also mentioned the Trans-Pacific Partnership should be very good for the economy as it will give BC more opportunities to trade around the world, and she is hoping to see an uptick in BC wines in grocery stores in the near future.