Filming and Special Events: A “How-To” for BC Highways

Filming for Final Destination 5 took place on the Lions Gate Bridge and Brunswick Gravel Pit

We’re not the only ones who know British Columbia is a scenic place to work and play. Every year, filmmakers, actors and athletes from around the world use provincial roads and highways as backdrops for the big screen and terrain for local sporting events.

With the amount of filming that is done in BC, it’s no surprise we’re known as “Hollywood North.” In 2017, the film industry generated $3.6 billion for local economies, according to Creative BC statistics.

Before an event or any filming can happen, organizers must first get permission from us, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. A permit and a solid game plan help keep participants safe and reduce interruptions for travellers.

*Fun Film and Event Facts*

  • In 2017, the ministry issued 141 filming permits and 358 special events permits.
  • Films and shows you may have heard of: Deadpool 2, Skyscraper, Dragged Across Concrete, Highway Thru Hell.
  • We get applications for TV series the most, followed by commercials and feature films.
  • Approximately 75 per cent of filming applications for provincial roads are within the Lower Mainland.
Cyclists pedal Highway 99 through Squamish during the Whistler GranFondo.

Looking to film or planning an event that will include provincial roads or highways? Ministry special event and filming permits are currently free-of-charge. However, we require applicants to have a traffic management plan in accordance with the Traffic Management Manual for Work on Roadways during the event, and carry proper insurance coverage.

Here’s what to do, including some examples:

Special Event Planning on BC Highways

Event Types:

From triathlons to cycling races, sporting events are most popular on provincial roads. No surprise there, since BC features some of the most scenic and challenging routes in the country. For example, the Whistler GranFondo takes 5,000 cyclists 122 km through the beautiful Coast Mountain Range from Vancouver to Whistler along Sea to Sky Highway 99. Provincial roads also fuel some important fundraisers, such as Cops for Cancer and GearUp4CysticFibrosis. Community parades and rallies are also events that rely on BC roads.

What You Need to Do:

It’s best to get started on the permit process early, as reviews and approvals from other agencies may be required. If you’re planning an event, feel free to contact your local ministry district office with your application, route map, scheduling and traffic control plan. These documents will determine approval for your permit. You may also need to work with police, traffic control companies and other local municipal authorities.

Read more information on permits and liability.

Film set built along Highway 6 in Ymir.

Filming on BC Highways

What do the Discovery Channel and Twilight‘s teenage vampires have in common? They’ve both been involved in filmmaking on BC highways.

A ministry permit is needed prior to filming on highways, bridges, tunnels and other provincial lands. The filmmaker or production company must contact us for the forms and insurance, and are required to apply several weeks in advance. It’s important that traveller safety is considered in the planning process, so know the area you want to film and the types of traffic control measures needed. We can help you.

Read more information on filming requirements.

Our highways can set the stage for all kinds of special events and filming opportunities. By giving yourself time to follow the permitting process you help ensure your creative venture on the road runs smoothly. And remember, we’re here to help.

Rambo: First Blood, filmed in Hope during the early 1980s.
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