In this February photo, a crowd listens to proceedings during a public forum on the city’s proposed budget at Brandon City Hall.
The City of Brandon’s chances for becoming the star of a new tax documentary TV series are dwindling.
Force Four Entertainment, a Vancouver-based film production company, had been eyeing the Wheat City for the new television project, but there hasn’t been enough enthusiasm from the community to pursue it.
"There was some initial interest but it seems we just haven’t been hearing from as many people as we have in other cities across Canada," said Nicole Lawson, Force Four’s director of development. "We’re sort of feeling like Brandon is slowly falling down on the list of places that are on our short list, simply because we’re not hearing from people."
The idea for the new documentary series is for a town or neighbourhood to take matters into their own hands, and prove they can manage their own municipal, provincial and federal tax dollars.
"People have that frustration about how money is spent … so we’re looking at, could people do it better?" Lawson said. "We have no idea. Is there a way for a community to come together and sort of try that out, and can we give people back lots of money that they save by doing things on their own?"
One example Lawson said is the "flower pot debate." What if people took over managing the flower pots on city roads? Or what about living in a tent in the forest to dodge property taxes?
"It’s sort of that fun tone and I think that’s what we’re trying to get out there," Lawson said. "Yeah there’s a serious undertone to it, it’s a money show … but it has that adventurous spirit too."
Some of the programs that Force Four Entertainment is known for, include "Village on a Diet" on CBC and "Million Dollar Neighbourhood" on OWN.
"We deal with these shows in a certain way and it’s respectful," Lawson said. "It has a great tone and a great energy, and that’s the kind of programming you can expect from Force Four."
The series would range from six to 13 episodes and would follow one town’s journey.
During Brandon’s 2011-12 budget proceedings, city council made adjustments following what has been referred to as a tax revolt.
Force Four researched communities across Canada, and noticed Brandon residents were very active and vocal in the budget deliberations, which made them want to look closer at the city.
When the idea first came about earlier this fall, Coun. Stephen Montague (Richmond) said he thought the documentary would be an interesting exercise, while Mayor Shari Decter Hirst said she wouldn’t endorse the project.
The production company is considering towns in Alberta, B.C., Ontario and Nova Scotia. Brandon is the only Manitoba location being considered. They plan on visiting three towns in person to do a town hall meeting before making the final decision.
"We want to do this over the next month or so," Lawson said. "We’ll know where we’re going to come back and shoot the demo, so there’ is a limited time to hear from people in Brandon."
If you’re interested in providing feedback on this project email Force Four at firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/BrandonProject.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition November 30, 2012