Skip to content

Letter: 'Visionary' Burnaby councillor will be deeply missed

A former colleague remembers Vic Stusiak's intellect and forward thinking.
Victor Stusiak, Freeman of Burnaby and former city councillor, recently died at age 98. A former council colleague remembers him as a "visionary."


I had the pleasure of serving on Burnaby council with Vic Stusiak from 1983 to 1987 and mourn his passing. Vic was erudite, articulate and brilliant — he was the father of Burnaby's vaunted reserve policy, by which Burnaby funds its capital programs rather than going "cap in hand" to the Municipal Finance Authority (MFA).

Burnaby's owes its ability to self-finance new pools, ice rinks, libraries and community centres to Vic Stusiak.

Vic was visionary — when city planners insisted on many development sites being reserved for office and business use in Metrotown, Vic observed that more entrepreneurs and others were working from home-based businesses. His words have proven prophetic, especially in the wake of the 2020 pandemic.

When city staff identified what they believed to be the ideal site for the new Metrotown public library, Vic instructed staff to buy all available property in the general neighbourhood. In this way, the city could not be held for ransom by a single hold-out property owner.

As a result, Burnaby gained the library site and civic square and later sold the surplus property for redevelopment at handsome profits for the city coffers.

When city planners favoured the development of the current Metropolis and opposed the eastward expansion of the mall to include the land that now comprises the Hudson's Bay, Vic Stusiak argued that the eastward expansion of the mall didn't matter a bit as land use in Metrotown would evolve over time. And sure enough, the core of Metrotown and Metropolis is transitioning to residential. Station Square, with its brutalism-inspired street-facing Save-On parkade, has disappeared with the modernization and urbanization of the site.

Vic had the intellect and business acumen to lead and direct change. His contributions to Burnaby's financial health and wealth are unparallelled. He was always courteous to me, and he was a politician with innovative ideas based on a lifetime of solid business and personal experience.  We also thank him for his service to Canada in the Second World War.

He will be missed.

Lee Rankin, former Burnaby councillor (1983 to 1999, 2002 to 2008)