News » Whistler

Olympic parking contractor offering students employment

School teams could use salaries earned during break to fund programs



Six months ago Chet Gillespie had a tall order to fill - 520 temporary parking jobs in Squamish and Whistler, at a time when a lot of local businesses and employees will be working at full capacity.

Now, after hosting a job fair over the summer and aggressively recruiting throughout the corridor, Gillespie estimates that they have filled about 80 per cent of those positions. He is holding a second job fair in Whistler on Sunday, Jan. 10 but he recently reached an agreement with the Vancouver 2010 Organizing Committee (VANOC) that will allow him to recruit from local colleges and especially high schools, which are closed for two weeks during the 2010 Winter Games.

"The great news is that because a couple of our venues are not within the secure zone or perimeter is that... we've just been given permission to hire up to 75 (high school students)," said Gillespie, who is coordinating operations for Impark-Lanier.

The company is a joint venture between Imperial Parking Canada and Lanier Parking Solutions that was formed to take on the massive parking contract for the Olympic Games in Vancouver, Richmond, North and West Vancouver and through Sea to Sky.

"Up until now, because of the age of accreditation, we can't have staff working in secure zones who are not 19-plus," Gillespie explained. "Inside the fence jobs have to be accredited and high school students, because of their age, don't qualify.

"This is pretty significant because we now have high schools in Whistler and Squamish that can in fact be put to work."

Gillespie has already made arrangements with the men's and women's basketball teams at Quest University in Squamish to put those teams to work. The jobs will help them raise money for travel and to attend tournaments. He says something similar is possible for high school teams and programs. As well, high school students that want to work to raise money for post-secondary school or other uses can work on their own time.

Impark-Lanier pays their parking hosts and attendants a wage of $12.87 per hour and can guarantee shifts of up to six weeks, 40 hours per week.

High school students can only work for just over two weeks of that time, Gillespie acknowledges, but says they can be very flexible with their staff hours. Most of the supervisor positions have been filled, but he says there is a chance that some will open up. You will need to be 19 or older to take on those positions, which pay $16.83 per hour.

Employees are coming in from all walks of life, according to Gillespie. His staff includes employees from eastern Canada, Australians, New Zealanders and Europeans, as well as various professionals between jobs or who are on leave from work and are looking for a job that offers Olympic experience. Gillespie has also hired 17 South Africans who are currently on work exchange in Whistler as part of a hotel management course.

All parking employees will be able to put the Olympics on their resumes, said Gillespie, and employees that go above and beyond will receive special certificates that they can use to find future employment.

"It's based on attitude, a willingness to get the job done, reliability - all the things future employers and (Olympic) Games are going to look for," said Gillespie. "This opens doors at events like the Commonwealth Games, the Canada Games, the Grey Cup - all these events that require people on the ground."

As well, certificate holders will be recognized by the Chambers of Commerce in Whistler and Squamish, and names will be attached to a mailing list that will be distributed throughout Sea to Sky for employers, "giving them an insightful and meaningful hiring tool," Gillespie added.

Most full time positions with the parking contractor get underway from Jan. 19 to 21 and run through the end of the Paralympics in March.

The job fair takes place Jan. 10 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at a tent outside the Pan Pacific Hotel in Whistler Village. Employees that sign up their friends are eligible to win draw prizes including $500 in ski gear and accommodation at the Pan Pacific.

As well, the public is invited to come by the tent and buy hot dogs, with the proceeds going towards the Whistler Adaptive Sports Program.