I've known Vic Fedeli for more than 30 years.
I started out hustling him for money in 1980. Vic owned a growing advertising agency in North Bay and I was launching Northern Ontario Business newspaper. Vic was supportive of anything about Northern Ontario, but he was pretty tight with a buck. I'm not sure if I got any money out of Vic, but I remember it was fun trying.
Vic has always marched to the beat of his own drummer.
In 1992, at the age of 35, he sold his agency and retired to travel the world and focus on community projects.
In 1996, he helped establish the Air Base Property Corporation in North Bay to take over the Canadian Forces Base which was deemed surplus by the Canadian government. For a dollar a year Vic worked almost full-time to establish it as a going concern. I remember at the time doing a column on economic development in North Bay and happened to speak to numerous citizens. The corporation was going through a rough patch and had lost a million dollars on a deal. As I spoke to people around town, not one person of any political stripe criticized Vic for this development. They knew how hard he had worked and that whatever transpired would be fixed under his watch. Sure enough, a few lawsuits later, Vic was vindicated and some $3 million in proceeds were spent fixing the air base infrastructure.
As a veteran of Northern politics and economic development, I know how fast people can turn on one another when there is trouble. This was a testament to Vic's reputation for integrity and the cohesiveness of the North Bay community.
Vic's travel regimen was cut short by the SARS epidemic in 2003. Wife Patty said that's it for world travel. We are staying close to home. What to do? Run for mayor of course.
At the time, North Bay was in the doldrums: little construction, population decreases and poor credit ratings. Vic went to work. By the time he was done, seven years later, construction was up, debts were under control, and the industrial park had come alive with tens of millions of dollars of investment. What to do? Stand down.
"It was painful my last day before leaving city hall, but I believe in term limits. We need constant turnover, with new people all the time."
By the way, for that entire period, Vic turned over his annual salary to various charitable groups and never collected a dime for his seven-year stint as mayor.
Not everything was hearts and roses. Vic's bete...