(by Kurt Langmann, Langley Times, The Aldergrove Star)
One hundred Aldergrove families will be the stars of a new TV series starting Sunday, January 22, when Corus Entertainment’s OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network (Canada) presents the premiere of the “Million Dollar Neighbourhood.”
Billed as “an unprecedented social experiment set in Aldergrove, in which 100 families have only 10 weeks to raise their collective net worth by $1 million” this series premieres Sunday, Jan. 22 at 5 p.m. PT and repeats at 8 p.m. PT.
The series was developed and filmed over several months this past summer and fall. Large-scale events were staged in public spaces but most of it has been filmed out of the public eye and all participants have signed non-disclosure forms to protect the details from being leaked prior to the broadcast on TV.
There has been some skepticism expressed about the series by onlookers in the community but the participants says it has been rewarding in more ways than financially.
“The underlying message that many of us have witnessed is hope. Of course it’s television and things might not always be (or have been) as they seem but I know first hand that many lives have been changed for the good – including mine,” said Annette McArthur.
“Feeling alone is a beast in and of itself and learning that there are so many others in the same boat who genuinely need help – and want to give help – is a beautiful thing. I was recently asked if I had any regrets being involved and having cameras ‘intruding’ on some of the very personal things in my life and the answer is ‘no.’ Not one single regret.
“The reality is, people are more willing to talk about their sex lives than they are their finances and Million Dollar Neighbourhood taught us that it’s ok to be open about our finances and seek help from both experts and our community.
“Aldergrove is the star of the show – and I believe what you’ll see is a very happy ending and a legacy that we will all be proud of,” said McArthur.
The 10-part one-hour series is co-hosted by financial expert Bruce Sellery and clinical psychologist Dr. Joti Samra, who help the Aldergove neighbours address their personal problems with tough love and uncompromising directness.
In the face of crushing debt, massive credit card bills, rocketing housing costs and out-of-control spending, the families step out of their comfort zones to tackle their financial problems together.
In each episode, neighbours take on a community challenge and an individual challenge. To reach the community’s million dollar goal, every family must see an average $1,000 net worth increase each week. They will need to dig deep, downsize, earn, barter, share, swap, scrimp, save and collaborate with their neighbours in ways they never could have imagined, and if all 100 families in this community can do it, they will truly become a Million Dollar Neighbourhood.
To raise the stakes even higher, if the community makes their $1 million goal, they’ll choose one family to win the life-changing sum of $100,000.
“In Million Dollar Neighbourhood viewers will undoubtedly identify with the pitfalls that these families face, from mindless spending to letting back-taxes pile up, to overspending on daily necessities in favour of convenience,” said Vibika Bianchi, Vice President of Original Programming, Lifestyle, Reality, Factual Entertainment at Corus Entertainment.
“Watching this community struggle to achieve this enormous goal will inspire Canadians and will compel everyone to look at money in a whole new way.”
In the premiere episode on Sunday, January 22, Sellery and Dr. Samra roar into town in the back of an armoured truck to issue the Million Dollar Neighbourhood challenge to the Aldergrove community – to save or earn $1 million in 10 weeks. First up, the neighbours have to surrender their credit cards, then they must head home and search for their “hidden money” – everything from loose change to five-figure savings on past years’ taxes, courtesy of H&R Block’s Second Look SM program.