Michael Dobbin, a producer with local film company Quiet Revolution Pictures, was part of a group bidding for $1.5 million that the City of Ottawa was offering private firms to build the facility.
But now the city’s economic development organization, Invest Ottawa, appears to have given up on that process, and Mr. Dobbin now plans to follow through on the plan he abandoned a few years ago.
He said he prepared a business case three years ago that would allow the group of which he is a part, National Film Studios, to build the studio without the need for taxpayer dollars.
That changed, however, when Invest Ottawa said it was offering up public funding.
“When (the city) did get involved, the process (became) exceptionally complicated for us because suddenly the city might, out of nowhere, fund a competitor, which is why we answered the RFP in the first place,” said Mr. Dobbin.
Invest Ottawa said in early December that Toronto-based Cinespace had won the right to negotiate to build the studio. But those talks came to an abrupt end earlier this year when Invest Ottawa said Cinespace had backed out of the process.
Invest Ottawa then decided to go back to Mr. Dobbin’s group, which was one of two other companies that originally bid to build the studio when the process first started in 2012.
Mr. Dobbin met with Invest Ottawa officials on Wednesday but he said they did not want to negotiate with him, leading him to believe they were no longer planning to proceed with the RFP.
Invest Ottawa officials were not immediately available to comment.
Bruce Lazenby, president and CEO of Invest Ottawa, has said in the past the $1.5 million was necessary to generate enough interest from private firms to build the studio. The organization wanted the studio to help grow what it believes is a growing industry of film and TV production.
Mr. Dobbin disagrees. He said the involvement of money from the city created a lot of extra work that has now gone for naught.
“If the city is not going to be involved further it makes our plan to implement a little bit easier,” he said.
He wasn’t sure how the size of his planned sound stage will compare to the one Invest Ottawa is seeking since the two sides never got that far in their talks.
He said he didn’t want it to be a “massive” site, though, since he doesn’t think Ottawa would be able to compete directly with bigger cities such as Toronto and Montreal.
What he envisions instead is a studio that will be big enough to take advantage of the film and TV production that is already taking place locally.
Invest Ottawa wanted the studio built at the site, called Bayview Yards, the city plans to redevelop west of downtown. Mr. Dobbin said his bid in the RFP process had a location somewhere else in the city.