The City of Toronto is empowering its growing film and television production industry to continue going green.
The city announced on Monday that it will give production crews access to Toronto’s power grid at two heavily used filming locations – Ashbridges Bay Park and Sir Casimir Gzowski Park. The city said the plan will see production companies use its electric grid to power things like crew trailers and offices instead of burning fossil fuels.
Mayor John Tory said the move will help reduce the city’s carbon footprint by 400 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year, the equivalent of the annual energy used by 45 homes.
“These power drops, people will see them as ordinary infrastructure that they’re used to seeing all over town,” Tory said.
“But what they’re going to do is eliminate… [the] need for diesel generators.”
The change comes as the city’s film, television and digital production industry expects to continue to grow this year, with local studios expecting by spring to be at full capacity again this year. In 2021, the industry was responsible for a record $2.5 billion in direct spending in Toronto, with the city hosting 1,468 productions and 7,800 production days.
Tory said the industry has asked the city to help ensure local productions can go green. This plan is part of those efforts and will help Toronto meet its plan to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2040, he added.
“It may seem like a small example…but these are all things that will help achieve this long-term environmental goal,” Tory said.
“Toronto shows leadership”
John Rakich, stage manager and representative of the Directors Guild of Canada, said Toronto is the first jurisdiction in Canada to offer power cuts to film and television productions, giving it a competitive edge.
“Toronto is showing leadership with this,” he said.
“The film and television production industry, locally and globally, intends to develop more sustainable production practices.”
Rakich said that while the film crews weren’t filming in either park, they would likely plan to set up base camps at the location for their cast and crew trailers to use the clean electricity.
“It’s extremely helpful,” he said.
“If you’ve ever seen any of the units we’ve parked, they’re big and use a lot of power, so I’d rather have them come from green sources than diesel.”
The city said it’s not just the film and television industry that will benefit from the program; power outlets will also be available for local events, food trucks and other users.
The city’s film office will meter electricity usage at the drops and bill individual businesses that use them, staff said.
The Toronto Environmental Alliance said the program is a positive step and will reduce the city’s carbon emissions. But the city must take the same approach to reducing fossil fuel use on a larger scale if it is to meet its climate change goals, said Sarah Buchanan, director of campaigns for the alliance.
“Diesel is a great place to start because it’s such a dirty fuel,” she said.
“We have to make those same changes in our buildings, in our vehicles. If that’s the only step we take, it’s not as positive.”