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The constant administrator

Kim Anema and the bureaucracy of Squamish



The sun shines bright on Stanley Clarke Park, and Kim Anema takes it in through the long, wide window in his office. This time of year, that’s where he gets his vitamin D. That same sun is still climbing the backside of the Chief when he gets to work at 8 a.m., and it’s long since set when he makes his way home about the time most people are loading their dishwashers. For all intents and purposes, this window is a walk through the park it looks over.

But that’s the nature of the job. Being the chief administrative officer of a burgeoning municipality involves long hours and little rest. This is a man who doesn’t golf enough to be good at it; rather, he’s just good enough to want to golf again. When he reads a book, like The Kite Runner , he does it in one weekend — otherwise, the story gets lost in the shadow of district reports, long-running meetings and demanding research.

Anema’s road to this window was a long one. One of 10 children, he was born in 1953, just one year after his parents emigrated from Holland. The product of a Christian Reformist upbringing, his values were instilled early, and they guided him right through to the decisions he makes today.

But first, he started an education in finance, and that steered him to Fort St. John, where he counted beans for a refinery project. When that project shut down, Anema wound up in the town’s municipal hall. Working in the finance department, he stayed there for almost 10 years before moving to Houston, B.C., to work as treasurer.

“When you go into a small community,” he says, “you have more diverse responsibilities. In that community, besides a responsibility for finance, I had responsibilities for bylaw enforcement and business licensing, and I acted as the administrator in her absence. In a small community, you have a steep learning curve about other aspects.”

He took that learning curve to Port Moody in 1987. It was strictly a finance gig, nothing like the cornucopia of duty he had in Houston. Plus, the big city anonymity didn’t stoke his fires, and so, before a year had gone by, he made plans to push on.

He landed in Squamish in 1989, again in finance. After a few years, his boss retired, and he took over that role. Come 2002, when Councillor Corinne Lonsdale was mayor, Anema became CAO, a role he’s occupied ever since, one that saw him partner not just with Lonsdale, but also former Mayor Ian Sutherland and sitting Mayor Greg Gardner.

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