Hwy 19 to be closed near Bowser for Sonic movie

Hwy 19 to be closed near Bowser for Sonic movie

Detour set up Sept. 10 to 14 to allow filming of chase scene involving pick-up truck

A portion of Highway 19 is going to be closed for five days next month to make way for the filming of the movie ‘Sonic The Hedgehog.’

It takes place 22 kilometres north of Qualicum Beach near the Bowser community Sept 10-14. The $90-million budget film stars Jim Carrey.

Motorists won’t be able to drive the highway from Horne Lake Road to Cook Creek Road between 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. to accommodate filming of significant action scenes, one of which involves a pickup truck being chased and the driver being forced to stop on the highway.

The Ministry of Transporation and Infrastructure (MoTI) approved the closure after Joan Miller of the Vancouver Island North Film Commission (INFilm), on behalf of Hedgehog Films Inc, was able to gain community support from Courtenay-Comox MLA, Ronna-Rae Leonard, the City of Courtenay, Town of Comox, and the Comox Valley Regional District earlier this month.

Miller, in her letter to local government officials, indicated that the filmmaker will do their best to minimize impacts the road closure will have on the area and for those who frequently travel on the highway.

“We understand concerns regarding road closures and will do our very best to expedite re-opening the highways once the scenes are complete each day,” Miller said in her letter.

The MoTI has arranged a detour route onto Highway 19A, near Bowser, during the days of filming. Drivers are requested to use the Old Island Highway. Traffic control personnel will be positioned along Highway 19 at Cooke Creek Road and Horne Lake Road. Road signs will also be posted along the highway to let drivers know about the road closures and alternate routes. The ministry also wants to remind commuters to slow down through the Bowser Village Centre, which has a posted speed limit of 60 km/h. Electoral Area F director Bill Veenhof the Regional District of Nanaimo supported the closure initially when he was told that the filming was going to take place between Cooke Creek Road and Buckley Bay as the area is under the jurisdiction of the Comox Valley Regional District.

Veenhof said he found out recently the road closure was changed to between Horne Lake Road and Cooke Road. The Regional District of Nanaimo was not consulted about the change and nobody informed him about it, he added.

“I heard about it two days ago and I didn’t believe it,” said Veenhof. “Then I found out that’s what they did and it caught me unaware and flat-footed.”

Veenhof said with through traffic going to be routed down Highway 19A via Horne Lake Rd and Kenmuir, the expected high volume of traffic passing through Bowser and Qualicum Bay is going to impact the community.

“It is a concern for local residents and for me as well,” said Veenhof, who indicated that he sent out letters to his constituents Tuesday night about the road closure.

“There are safety issues.”

Veenhof said he would now like to see the traffic management plan that aims to mitigate the impact to the community. He also informed constituents to raise their concerns to the province as the issue is under the MoTI jurisdiction.

Filming of Paramount’s live-action/animation hybrid movie is expected to last a week but is weather dependent, according to MoTI. Additional filming could take place on Sept. 18-19.

The film, which also stars James Marsden of X-Men and HBO’s Westworld fame, is based on a video game created by Sega in the early ‘90s. The movie is also going to be filmed in Ladysmith and Metro Vancouver.

“There will be 150 crew as well as many local hire,” said Miller. “The local economic impact from this production will be significant.”

The film is scheduled to be released on Nov. 15, next year.