Mayor Larry White Speaks About His Time in Office

Q: You came to TR to retire. Why did you choose to get involved in local politics?

A: I've always been interested in local politics. I was encouraged to run due to my volunteer participation here. I had no grandiose ideas or sweeping changes. I just wanted to participate in the way the town was going.

Q: What are you more aware of now after 6 years in politics than you were before?

A: I'm much more aware of how and why politicians make the decisions that they do. It's easy to criticize from the outside. People are not aware of all the background work and difficult negotiations that go on to come to a final decision. As a result, I am much less critical and more lenient on the decisions that are made.
 
Q: What was your biggest challenge you had to overcome as mayor? Did you succeed?

A: The biggest challenge of a mayor is to instil a sense of teamwork among the council members. We've had some decisions that could have divided council. I think the tone of council was such that we respected each others' differences of opinion. In the end, once a difficult decision was made, we respected one another. That is the challenge; to maintain respect for the others' opinion. The team is the key to success. I think we achieved that.
 
Q: In your mind, what was your biggest failure? In hindsight how could you have approached it differently?

A: The failure to get the bio-energy plant sited here near Tumbler Ridge. I was very disappointed. There was a lot of travel and negotiations involved. We worked tirelessly for 6 months to put together the proposal for BC Hydro. This was also a failure to secure a secondary power source for the town. We came down to the final few and lost. This process was both my highest high and lowest low as mayor.
 
Q: How did the pressures of the office change you as a person?

A: You'd have to ask my wife. I made a lot of great friends and unfortunately, a few enemies as well. I've learned to make tough decisions based on what I think is right, not on what others want me to do. It's important to weight the benefits for the entire town and not cave to the wants and wishes of a few. This type of decision-making is bound to cause some unhappiness and maybe even make a few enemies along the way. I have grown in the job to recognize that it is impossible to please everyone.
 
Q: What do you think makes TR special and unique among Northern Communities?

A: I think we have more opportunities and potential than a lot of communities in the North. We have oil ad gas, coal, timber, wind, and biomass not to mention tourism and palaeontological finds. This is all huge stuff! We as a council have virtually no control over the development of our resources. But we do have control over the tourism that occurs as a result of our wilderness and dinosaur finds. That is the one industry that we can influence to our advantage if we choose to. We can do a lot more to attract tourism. If we fail to diversify our base, it is to the town's peril. My biggest fear is that future councils will bend to a very vocal minority and give up on our palaeontological museum.
 
Q: Why do you hold such a strong opinion on this museum?

A: There are 3 issues here. First is that the museum is an excellent custodian of the old school building.  What is the future of this building and the costs to maintain it if the museum leaves town? If these people think the district can save any money by abandoning our support of the museum they don't have the facts.
Secondly, the museum is attracting significant funding on it's own. Grants totalled nearly $1 million last year. That is money that is coming to TR and staying here. Thirdly, it is attracting significant and very high level attention all around the world. This is really great news for such a small town such as ours. The costs to advertise would be prohibitive, but through the museum's outreach, all that publicity is done for us, in key countries such as Australia, Germany and many more, all for free. There are many communities that would give their eye teeth to have what we have here. It is foolish to consider abandoning it.
 
Q: What do you see as the biggest challenges for the next mayor and council?

A: Accommodations, accommodations, accommodations!
 
Q: What are the most important opportunities that you would encourage your successors to address?

A:  The opportunity to re-acquire Crown land around town that was given back to the Province some years ago in exchange for wiping out our debt. In fact this process has already begun. Once completed, we will once again have control over development in areas such as behind Peace River Cr. And near the camp and baseball diamonds. This is currently Crown land right in the middle of town  that we cannot develop.
 
Q: What were your accomplishments?

A: There were considerable negotiations involved with the Rec Center refit. I'm proud of the new LED lighting downtown as well as the new wheelchair ramp at town hall. We had a very successful negotiation with Capital Power over tax rates over 25 years. We now have in place 25 years of guaranteed  tax income that future councils can rely on if need be.  I'm also quite proud of our new seniors' housing complex and finally, you might have noticed, but the new fibre optics ore being placed into the ground as we speak to provide us with high speed internet to the world. Finally, I'm proud of the strong financial situation the town is in. We have $2.7M in reserves for our infrastructure and emergencies. That is something I'm very happy about.
 
 Q: Any last words?

A: Yes. I want to say that I very much appreciate council who supported me. I also am grateful for those citizens who come up and thank me for my service. That's always rewarding.