What Ottawa’s new Film By-Law means for you

Ottawa City Council recently approved a new Film By-Law that will help streamline the film permitting process. We know this will be a period of transition for many – our office, the City, location managers and filmmakers – and we’re striving to make this process as smooth and seamless as possible.

We encourage all filmmakers to read the Film By-Law in its entirety to avoid surprises when applying for a film permit, but in the meantime, we’ve recapped some of the major changes you’ll notice.

Point of contact
The biggest change filmmakers will notice is that the OFO is no longer your contact for obtaining approvals to film on City of Ottawa property. Going forward, the City’s Event Central department will be the coordinating body for all filming and film-related parking requests on City property. As noted in the By-law, you’ll also need to apply to Event Central if you’re filming special effects or stunts on federal or private property, or if you’ll have replica weapons or emergency vehicles in the public view (regardless if you’re on private or public lands).

Event Central is no stranger to filming requests. The OFO has worked closely with Event Central for the past decade to process and issue filming approvals, and their relationships with other key departments and organizations in the city means they know who to turn to for quick action. Feel free to reach out to Event Central with any questions you have about filming on City property; they can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 613-580-2424 ext. 38368.

Applying for a permit
Location managers who are accustomed to our various forms will appreciate the City’s effort to simplify the application process by combining most forms into one. Information found on our production information form, filming approval application, and parking permit application are now included on one new filming permit application. Additional forms may be required depending on the production’s needs, and the insurance certificate and indemnification of the City are still required. As we contemplate post-pandemic filming protocols, it’s possible that additional information will be required to ensure safe filming environments.

Most requests for filming or parking on City property must be submitted to Event Central at least five business days in advance. As noted on the application’s sixth page, more complex requests requiring road closures, paid duty officers or other special permissions will take longer. Learn more about applying for permits on the City of Ottawa website.

The City offers filming permits at no cost; however, fees will still apply in special circumstances such as on-street parking, park rentals, and use of municipal facilities such as arenas and community centres. To minimize late requests in conjunction with the City’s User Service Fee Policy, a late fee of $200 for film applications submitted less than five days in advance of the film event has been developed. An additional $200 fee will apply should the film event require approvals from Traffic Management.

What does this mean for the film office?
Without the responsibility of processing filming requests, the film office can increase its focus on priority areas such as the development of the soundstage and creative hub, workforce development, research, and new marketing initiatives. It will also continue offering location support and assistance to foreign and local producers, connecting them to the locations, crew, and services that will bring their script to life.

This also doesn’t mean the film office won’t still be involved in the permitting process. We’ll continue to be informed of filming requests, and when needed, we’ll be there to provide expert advice to help maintain the city’s position as a film-friendly destination. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or concerns about filming in Ottawa – we’re here for you.