The 2010 Olympics’ Sea to Sky Volunteer Centre was officially opened in Squamish on Labour Day, with live music, mascots, food and a small battery of official and political speakers.
The centre, located in the commercial section of the Spectacle building on Tantalus Road, off Highway 99, will be the central hub for VANOC’s volunteer effort in February 2010. Matters involving training, orientation, information and operating philosophies will be managed from there, though volunteers are still expected to sign up online.
“(Volunteers) get a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Stephen Fitzgerald, VANOC director of workforce operations and volunteers, adding that there will be other benefits beyond the experience. “We’re looking at things like uniforms and meals, but the rest is meant to be a surprise.”
VANOC is looking for 25,000 volunteers, 5,000 of whom will work the mountain venues, according to Donna Wilson, VANOC’s executive vice president of workforce and sustainability. She said 3,000 volunteers have so far been recruited from the corridor.
A transportation strategy is still coming together, although Wilson said shuttles and busses will be the primary modes of transport.
An accommodation strategy is also taking shape. Wilson said the 3,000 local volunteers ease some of the burden, though, during her speech, she made a pitch to area residents asking they volunteer their beds for people coming from out of town. Hotels, she said, do not figure into the approach, as rooms will be needed for ticket holders.
Locals, it seems, factor heavily into both strategies.
“It’s a really big push for us,” said Fitzgerald. “We really want to engage the local community.”
According to Fitzgerald, there are approximately 400 different volunteer roles, many of them requiring different skill sets. Examples include time- and gate-keeping, managing media, controlling technology and interfacing with dignitaries.
B.C. MP James Moore, secretary of state for the 2010 Olympics, though seeming at first to think himself in Whistler, said a robust contingent of volunteers would form the cornerstone of a smooth and successful Olympics. MLA Joan McIntyre, as well as Squamish Mayor Ian Sutherland, echoed Moore’s sentiments, as did aspiring Olympic athlete Michelle Bartleman.
Whistler Mayor Ken Melamed was also in the crowd. Notable for his absence was MP Blair Wilson, who joined the Green Party over the weekend.