Steveston still stealing scenes as filming grows

Godzilla was partially filmed in Steveston. - Philip Chin (@iPhilFlash)
Godzilla was partially filmed in Steveston.
— image credit: Philip Chin (@iPhilFlash)

The sometimes sleepy small town of Storybrooke, depicted in the popular TV series Once Upon a Time, is actually Steveston. It’s a fact most locals already know, but tourists are now also paying attention.

Filming activity jumped 33 per cent in 2013 over the previous year, according to a new report pointing to film tourism as a boost to the city.

“Film tourism continues in Richmond, due particularly to the global popularity of Once Upon a Time and also due to other productions such as the major feature film Godzilla,” noted Kerry Gillis, the city’s acting film and major events liaison, in a report presented to city council Monday.

City hall’s film office frequently fields requests from people planning vacations, wanting to know the ABC show’s next filming dates. And proof the show is drawing fans to Steveston Village is Tourism Richmond’s Visitor Centre, which has a hard time keeping souvenirs in stock from the fantasy-drama series.

Once spent 23 days filming in Richmond last year, using Britannia Shipyards, Garry Point Park and Steveston Village streets as locations. Crews spent another five days in the village filming the spinoff Once Upon a Time in Wonderland.

Two dozen other productions filmed here in 2013, including a handful of feature films and other popular TV shows such as A&E’s Bates Motel, CTV’s Arrow and the long-running American drama series Supernatural.

In all, 186 days of filming were recorded in Richmond in 2013, according to Gillis, up from 140 the year before. The majority, 79 per cent, took place on city-owned land, with Vancouver Airport Authority lands and private property also serving as locations.

Some predicted a depressed year for filming in 2013, given B.C.’s shift away from the HST, but Gillis said it proved to be “unusually busy.” Should the popular TV series that shoot here be renewed, the future of filming in Richmond will remain bright—and possibly get a boost from Canada’s weaker dollar.

Beyond tourism, the city noted positive economic spinoffs for private property owners and tenants, who were paid approximately $600,000 during the filming of 40 TV episodes in popular locations such as Steveston.

Indirect spending can also add up, as film crews bring an average of 100 people per day to their sets. According to the city, film crews try to source local supplies whenever possible.

Filming in Richmond - 2013


•50 Shades of Gray (YVR)



•Fairly Odd Summer

•If I Stay

•Pale Green



•The Interview

TV Series

•Almost Human

•Amazing Race Canada


•Bates Motel

•Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern

•CBC Kids - Will’s Jams

•Cedar Cove


•House Hunters International


•Once Upon a Time

•Once Upon a Time in Wonderland



•Simply Ming



•Toll House Cookies


•Suddenlink Communications

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