City and Film and Television Industry Working Together
The City of North Bay continues to welcome film and television productions. The City strives to balance the priorities for economic development and environmental protection as outlined in the City’s Strategic Plan; the safety of people, property and the environment remain the key considerations.
The community is very supportive of the industry and Council continues to support the City’s attraction efforts.
In 2016 and 2017 the City hosted 10 and 11 projects respectively. This past year 16 projects were filmed in the City.
The momentum continues to build going into 2019.
In 2018, PHOS-CHEK® was used by three different production companies in five of the 16 projects filmed in the North Bay.
On one specific shoot at the waterfront, the overspray burned vegetation and resulted in the City having to completely replace the dead shrubs, plants in the waterfront garden. As a result of this damage City staff conducted a careful and thorough review of the technical information provided by the users of the PHOS-CHEK® product.
The ecological and especially the environmental toxicity information on Material Safety Data Sheet raised concerns about the product. Specifically, the MSDS classifies the product as harmful in the 96-hr LC50 Rainbow Trout test. This test is a common laboratory procedure of environmental toxicity and, in fact, is completed quarterly on the North Bay Wastewater Treatment Plant effluent. The test determines the concentration of a product in water that is expected to be lethal to 50% of the test organisms with a 96 hour exposure period. The PHOS-CHEK® data sheet provided to the City notes that a concentration of 10.8mg/L (i.e.10.8 ppm or 0.001%) would be lethal to 50% of rainbow trout after 96 hours of exposure.
The City’s Engineering and Environmental Services staff reviewed this test data with the North Bay-Mattawa Conservation Authority; GHD Ltd., an environmental consulting firm as well as the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) who concur with the City’s interpretation of the 96-hr LC50 Rainbow Trout test.
The following items are also issues for concern and contributed to the decision to suspend the use of this particular substance:
- In discussions with the on-site special effects personnel, as well as the suppliers of the PHOS-CHEK® product, it was determined that the typical concentration being used in North Bay was a 0.2% solution (2L of concentrate into 1000L of water). This concentration is 200 times greater than the test concentration that kills 50% of the fish after 96 hours;
- The Material Safety Data Sheet specifically states “we do not recommend the application of the product directly into streams or other bodies of water”;
- The product is classified as readily biodegradable however it can take months for a product to fully biodegrade. In fact, large volumes of even a biodegradable additive can shock or otherwise interfere with the operation of a waste treatment facility and disrupt the ecosystem; and
- The PHOS-CHEK® product, as used, does not conform to the City of North Bay sewer use by-law.
Based on physical evidence and the technical evaluation noted above, the City of North Bay notified film producers who had previously used this substance, to stop using PHOS-CHEK®.
Producers who have previously used the substance have stated to City staff that they will work with the City to find alternative solutions and that this in no way has impacted planned projects for the area.
The City of North Bay has been working to attract and support the film and television industry since 2009 and recognizes the importance of this sector in our community. We look forward to continuing to provide the high level of service when facilitating production.