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Former councillor Victor Stusiak, Freeman of Burnaby, dies at 98

The former councillor and “financial watchdog” was awarded Burnaby's highest honour for his work in financial management and parks advocacy.
Victor Stusiak, Freeman of Burnaby and former city councillor, has died at 98.

One of Burnaby’s Freemen, former city councillor Victor “Vic” Stusiak died earlier this week on Aug. 7 at Burnaby General Hospital.

He would have been 99 on Aug. 27.

Stusiak was conferred the title Freeman of Burnaby in 2009, a recognition awarded to those who “have served and contributed significantly and selflessly to the wellbeing of Burnaby’s citizens and the community.”

His son Michael Stusiak said his father was a determined and passionate man who believed in his work.

“He was not, I don’t think, the kind of a politician who would tell you what you wanted to hear. He’d more likely tell you what he believed in — and if you liked it, you liked it, and if you didn’t, you didn’t,” Michael said.

As councillor from 1973-1977 and 1979-1987, Stusiak was a “financial watchdog,” according to a city report honouring him as Freeman, and created policies that “allow Burnaby to enjoy sound financial strategies for generations to come.”

His extensive work with parks and recreation projects included support for the Burnaby Mountain park dedication and initiating a parks levy on new developments, as well as the design and development of the Burnaby Village Museum.

In his youth, the former councillor served in World War II in the Royal Air Force.

When he returned to Canada, he started his own wood-window manufacturing company, where he honed his business acumen as the company’s president.

After one term as councillor, he mounted an unsuccessful mayoral run in 1977, then returned to city hall as councillor two years later.

At a council meeting last month, Mayor Mike Hurley acknowledged Stusiak’s upcoming birthday and thanked him for his contributions to the city, as “someone who shaped Burnaby into the thriving community we enjoy today.”

Stusiak’s son told the NOW his father was a proud Canadian and British Columbian, but had a special love for Burnaby.

“He just felt like Burnaby was something he had a chance to make an imprint on, and it was important for him to not just be sitting around being in Burnaby but being part of Burnaby,” Michael said.

Stusiak leaves behind three sons, 11 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.