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Pemberton Business Park could hold 2010 work camp

Space, services needed for almost 2,000 security guards



Pemberton could be one of the safest places in B.C. during the 2010 Games, with roughly 2,000 security guards camped on its doorstep.

Talks are now underway to convert the Pemberton Business Park into a temporary work camp, housing some of the thousands of security personnel needed for the Games.

"We have a couple of sites we're looking at right now and discussing the cost," explained Lyle Leo, Lil'wat Nation entrepreneur and the force behind the drive to recruit and train Aboriginals as security guards for the 2010 Games.

The 60-acre business park is attractive because it is fully serviced with hydro, water, sewer and high-speed Internet access.

"We don't have time for developing raw land," explained Leo.

Cam McIvor, who is a part owner of a significant portion of the park, confirmed the negotiations are underway. A decision needs to be made within the next two months, he added.

McIvor said Pemberton's sewer system and the water system are able to cope with the added pressure of thousands. The park owners are in discussions with not only the security team but also other Games related suppliers.

"Right now we're in a process with a number of different entities," he said.

Last week, the RCMP-led Olympic security unit announced a $100 million contract for private security work during the Games.

A consortium led by Contemporary International (CI) will be providing the private security services. The company will be employing 5,300 security personnel from Vancouver to the Sea to Sky corridor. Those are just some of the thousands of security staff, in addition to RMCP and military, needed for the Games.

"We've been involved in the (Olympic) Games since Atlanta," CI President Stephen Mirabile. "It's our life; it's our passion."

He is aware of the accommodation crunch in the Whistler area but would not elaborate at this point on how they would deal with it, other than to say they are working on several different options.

Leo said efforts are underway to see about relocating refurbished containers from work camps that are shutting down in Alberta.

A temporary camp for 2,000 Games' workers means demand for things such as food services, laundry services and cleaning services. That could have significant economic spin offs in Pemberton and the surrounding area.

McIvor said they are looking at providing a full service work camp with a strong emphasis on local employment for things like garbage and recycling pick up, food services, and laundry services.

"It's a significant economy leading up to and going away from the Games," said McIvor, estimating five to six months of economic activity with set up and tear down of the site.

Some of that spin off could also filter to the Douglas First Nation. Leo's company, T'musta7 Aboriginal Protection Services, forged a partnership with the Douglas First Nation that sees them support the accommodation in the Pemberton area with potential to reap some of the economic benefits of that accommodation.

In addition to the economic driver of the physical camp, there is also spin off to the community as temporary workers enjoy things like Pemberton Winterfest during the Games.

"It brings bodies to Pemberton," said McIvor.

The 2010 accommodation crunch came to light again this week after VIA Rail confirmed that it is in negotiations to provide Olympic Games bus drivers with sleeping accommodation in rail cars. The rail cars could sleep about 100 drivers and would be stationed at Pacific Central Station in Vancouver. The arrangement has not yet been finalized.