Vera Busse has lived in Lillooet for nine years. She served on Clinton’s Village Council in the 1990s, was chairperson of the Cariboo Tourism Association and was twice named Clinton’s Citizen of the Year. She was also honoured for developing an Alcoholics Anonymous program in the Clinton area. She has worked in public relations and community development for the Black Dome and Placer Dome mining companies in Canada and Platinum Group Metals in Africa.
The experience she brings to council:
In Africa, I was very involved in developing the communities, the housing and the water, pumps and wells as we developed the mine in Zimbabwe. Some of those camps had maybe 5,000 people and they were built for maybe 500. In South Africa, we had sports academies and I was hired to do that for nine communities with probably 90,000 people. We had to do community development in Africa. We paid $90,000 a month to each community because we were taking resources out of the ground and we had to pay them back.
Why run for council now?
Because it’s the first time we’ve been back here full-time. We’re totally retired now. Before, I still had my job and responsibilities and we were building the house here which took a lot longer than we thought it would.
It was absolutely in the back of my mind that at some point I would run for council. I’ve been going to the council meetings in Lillooet and I’ve been listening and seeing things for all those years. I honestly feel that there has to be a change to at least to put together some kind of plan that is going to pull us through this. Our tourism was so good for this summer but we can’t rely on that in winter. We have to sit down and work towards what kind of development we can do, what do people want? We have to have affordable living and we have to have affordable water.
We’re in a terrible mess right now with the infrastructure we have in place. We don’t have any knowledge of how much water is going to CN or to the parks or the cemetery. We’re using treated water to irrigate. We don’t have a lot of money but we can’t keep putting bandages on things. We have no idea what happened with the finances. I trust the consultant who came in but what happened?
People say, “We don’t want another audit.” Nobody wants another audit but where do we go from here?
Her brochure mentions that she and her husband paid the legal fees for citizens involved in defamation lawsuits. Is she paying the legal fees for anyone currently suing the District?
No. We paid the legal fees for the Kempfles and Ted Anchor in the defamation suits, but we had no idea it would drag on as long as it did… That was settled with apologies, everything was dropped and people had no more fear and weren’t in any legal danger anymore. Today, I have nothing to do with the Small Claims cases. I don’t even know when the court dates are.
The first thing I want to see is that we work together.
Too many times, people come and sit at the table and say “I’ve promised we’re going to do that.” You know what? Put that flag away, it’s not going to happen.
Number one: We want seniors to have good transportation, we want seniors to have affordable housing. I can’t promise that and we may have to look at some kind of partnership. I’m not a hearts and flowers person, I’m a hearts person. But I’m also a realist. And I’ve got tough shoulders. And I know that over the next four years that the priorities have to be set and it’s going to be hard for some people. But I don’t think it should be the seniors.
I would like to see affordable water for everybody. Nobody knows what that’s going to be cost. Once the metering starts you will be paying for every drop of water over and above your monthly fee. We have to come up with an affordable source of water. I think that’s a priority.
I would like to see community spirit improve. I know people say, “Oh no, it’s great, the Chamber of Commerce has done a lot of things.” And they have, they’ve done a helluva job these last few years but I think there has to be an understanding of what has to happen to keep the community together. I don’t think a lot of people here understand the financial struggles some of the businesses are having.
We have to do some development to increase our tax base. Because even this year, the taxes went up. They’re going to go up next year, just on the property values alone. And we’re not going to get any value from that.
People should vote for me because…
I’m a solid person, a reliable person, I’m trustworthy, I’m a hard worker…I don’t have to do this. As a matter of fact, by doing it, I’m not going to make any money. But I want to do it. I want to be part of it. I don’t want to sit in a chair and not do anything.