Barb Wiebe has lived in Lillooet for 12 years and is a retired businesswoman. She is seeking her second term as a Councillor for the District of Lillooet.
Were there any early surprises on council?
I think we walked into a big surprise because at the beginning of our term everything was in such turmoil with the finances, with the people we were working with; we didn’t really know each other but I think we turned into a fairly good working council. But it was what we walked into with the finances. It was a volatile situation, there were some scary moments and I never felt we had leadership.
And it was way more than two meetings a month. I knew it would be more than two meetings a month and I’m on a few committees and other than the Miyazaki House, those committees take me out of town. And I understand that because I’m the one councillor who doesn’t have to go to work at 8 o’clock in the morning but it takes time. I’m the mayor’s alternate on the SLRD, I’m on Gold Country, I attended the UBCM and I went to SILGA one year. I’m on the Miyazaki House Board and I have the same kind of passion for that that I had when I was on the Legion. I have a vision for that and I would like to get to that vision and be able to walk away and say, “OK, I did this.” I think over the years, along with a lot of other things the District owns, the Miyazaki House has been let go and it’s deteriorated. When you look back, none of our infrastructure was taken care of. Everything from what you don’t see that’s underground to our facilities to the Miyazaki House raises questions in my mind.
Achievements over the past four years:
I think getting the finances sorted out, getting things back on track. We didn’t please everybody, but I’m hoping we pleased at least a few of the masses. Things don’t happen overnight; it takes time. I’m very much a jump in and get it done person and I found that frustrating – you just don’t jump in and get it done. I’m really glad we got the issue with the Conwayville residents settled. I’m not sure if that would have happened regardless of council but I think us constantly pushing and asking, “Can we get reports from insurance?” I think it helped it along. I’m quite proud of that. I wish it would have happened way sooner.
Our audit. I still wonder about that one occasionally because what we spent on bringing Ken (Bjorgaard) in to sort things out, I don’t think the audit would have cost as much money. But I also think if there was anything under-handed going on, it would have cleared the air. It is what it is, this is what we’ve got, but I think it will always be in people’s minds – “Where did our tax dollars go?”
On being an outspoken councillor:
Laurie (Hopfl) always introduces me as being “our unfiltered councillor.” I think over the years I’ve learned the tone of voice you use will make people listen. It might not be the answer they want to hear, but at least they’ve got an answer. It’s just a strength I have, I guess. I remember when we lived in Calgary and I spoke out about how children were bussed. And my daughters were, “Just let it go, Mom.” And I told them, “No, I can’t. It’s the principle of the thing and I’m doing it for more than just you. It’s for people coming behind you.” It’s like our backwards underpass – there haven’t been any accidents yet. But how many kids have to get hurt on or off a city transit bus or standing on an LRT at 5 o’clock at night in the winter? Statistics play a big role in things and I don’t think it should be that way. I think it should be for the betterment of the people, not to wait until you get 10 accidents out there.
I can honestly say I’m not making any promises to anybody because I’ve learned my lesson. It takes the whole mayor and council to make things work, so what I want might not be a priority to three other people. If you get a “No” on something you want, you know what? Leave the room and leave it there. It is what it is. Leave it there and go for coffee.
People should vote for me because…
I’m honest, if you have a question I’ll get you an answer whether you like it or not, but I’ll get back to you with an answer. And I’m passionate about our community. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be running.