Based on the principles of fairness and to ensure businesses do not receive an unfair competitive advantage, the Community Charter prohibits municipalities from giving financial assistance to businesses.
On that premise, Township council agreed that there will be no relaxing of the fees requested by a production company hired by Oprah Winfrey Network Canada.
That company, Force Four Production, formed MDM Media to produce Million Dollar Neighbourhood in Aldergrove. In October, producer Keith Giesbrecht told Township council that if film permit fees were relaxed, the company would return the almost $16,000 in savings to the community of Aldergrove.
On Dec. 12, Giesbrecht said that Force Four is investing $125,000 in financial advisors and assistance to Aldergrove to show residents how to reduce debt, increase income, and find money they didn’t know they had — including funds owed to them by the Canada Revenue Agency. He added that production employees have injected into the Aldergrove economy more than $80,000 in food, gas and other necessities.
Residents have formed a car-pooling club, are compiling a coupon book to encourage local shopping, and organizing transportation links to help residents find work at Gloucester Estates.
Giesbrecht said that the production company had already paid the Township $12,595 in permits, expects to pay $3,000 to $4,000 more, and pledges to return it all to Aldergrove if the fees are waived.
Giesbrecht assured that profits “don’t go into Oprah’s pocket.”