Peter Busse has lived in Lillooet for 13 years. He started at the entry level in the mining industry and worked his way “and educated my way through my life” up to a senior executive position over a period of 35 to 40 years.He has worked in the industry across Canada and in South Africa and Zimbabwe.
What he likes about Lillooet:Everything. Each year when we came home from Africa we would look for a place to live when we retired. I wanted it to be between Gang Ranch and Lytton and every year we went up each side of the river and we camped and we explored. God Bless Vera – she found this place. I love it when I mow the lawn and I stop and look up at these mountains and go “Ah!” It has a powerful personal impact on me.
The experience he would bring to the mayor’s job:The direct political experience would be that I served on the school board in Red Lake in northern Ontario. The other political experience was what my job entailed every single day, all day long. What can I say? It’s there; it’s a requirement in order to keep communities happy with your vision and what your works are. Regional governments have requirements for permitting and associations require you to meet with ministers, deputy ministers, even premiers or presidents. I also worked with various chambers of commerce and high commissions.
On making the jump from being a private citizen to mayor without a stop along the way to serve as a councillor:I didn’t consider running for council because I have the background, depth and experience that I don’t really need to do that. I didn’t want to do it, let’s put it that way. I feel my strengths would be better served as mayor in the sense that I’m very inclusive and I’m very orientated to working with groups. I’ve struggled for the past eight years to get attention on what I consider some very important issues and the only way I could see to receive that attention is to
be in a position where I can guide and I can speak for for the whole council, in a very professional fashion, that these considerations should be taken. This community, as far as I’m concerned requires a heck of a lot more listening to and I want to see more input. I wouldn’t be able to do that as a councillor.
And I don’t view anybody as negative and vocal. Everybody has a right to be vocal.
Is there a difference between running a business and serving as a mayor?
Not really. I’m giving you my perspective; a lot of people don’t think that. Let’s face it – the mayor is the CEO. I have duties as the officer of a company, the COO and CEO. The CEO of any business is not a one-person band. He has a board of directors to report to; you have to include all of the other directors, keep them informed and they will dictate in terms of the vision and the mission of what the business is about. They report to shareholders and every year they have a shareholders meeting. Here, council meets every two weeks. I see very little difference. If the shareholders are not happy about something, they’re demanding, they express it. And as an operating COO, I get all kinds of calls from a shareholder or from our corporate office in Vancouver that he’s coming for a visit and he has to come away happy. Therefore, I feel there’s very little difference. I feel there’s a misconception there and certainly from my experience, the same efforts and energies and the same type of governance apply.
On transparency and communication: I’ve experienced throughout my career where you have unique and dominating managers that you work for. They’re very focused and sometimes bullying and you’re a common-sense person listening to this kind of management style and you say to yourself, “You know, this isn’t going to work. It turns me off and it doesn’t bring out the best in me.” All through my career, I found that if you didn’t listen to the people and you didn’t mentor them properly, you weren’t going to be that successful.
I have priorities but the first job will be to get the council together with staff to determine those priorities collectively, From my own perspective, water is a big thing for me personally. However, if the rest of council decides that isn’t the case, then I think I should be, and could be, very convincing without being bullying that this is something we should pay attention to. Basically, staff is going to come along and say, Yes we agree or disagree. And I will not have staff being intimidated by me or my position. They will freely express their input or concerns.
Obviously the water treatment plant and the water treatment facility is a high priority. The solution is I’m not the prime saviour of this community. You got to have a group that are knowledgeable, motivated and experienced and can contribute. You’ve got to Tap the Talent. What I’m good at is bringing people together and pulling the best out of them. I love doing that. And I love to stand back and watch it happen and then if I have to, I cajole a little here, I cajole a little there. I don’t need the glory and the fame. In terms of the water plant, nothing is a total failure. But you stop after the project’s done and you get the proper people around the table and then you say, “What worked good and what worked bad?” The good things are good and the things that didn’t work, you say, “We’ll never do that again.” That’s where we’re at. The plant is good, it’s beautiful, it works, but is it too expensive? We need to know. Do we use the creeks? We should consider that. The basic criteria of the design criteria was flawed at the
time and we tried to show people that. People weren’t going to listen. I’m saying now, “Sit down and review your design criteria. This is what we have, how best do we put it together for the community, with the least amount of cost and the best deliverance? The basic flaw is the creeks were discounted because of the fire.
Another strength I have is dealing with consultants and contractors. What ls in the consultants’ best interest? Maximum revenue. I’m telling you there are great people in this community who’ve got the answers. We don’t need to go to Kamloops, Kelowna or Vancouver. We need the consultants for one purpose – to put their stamp on it so we can go for our funding. We don’t need to spend $50,000 when we’ve got people who are willing to give us this information for free.
The zoning bylaw is another priority. I really struggle with this one shoe-fits-all type of thing. I don’t care if it’s worked in Kamloops or Kelowna or Victoria. This is a unique community with different parcels of land that have unique qualities and I am not afraid to go against the grain and do something that’s unique for us. The end goal has to be that there is enough development to pay for our costs. And if we don’t do that we become a failing community. And I am really excited because I know there are four distinct local people that want to get into some kind of development. Council should put in regulations that will allow businesses to come and businesses to flourish.
We need young families to come to Lillooet because we need to populate our schools and we have an aging population. With those two, it seems to some a conflict. They are not. They are the best of both.
The 10 Mile Slide is a big one with me. That one’s got to be wrestled to the ground. We’ve got to get that back to a 100 per cent load.
And I believe in working closely with First Nations. We can do better on that to the benefit of us together as a single community.
People should vote for me because…I will listen to them and because I have the best interests of this community at heart. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be here. I can see success in front of us but only if we work together.