News » Whistler

RMOW trying to prepare staff, residents for life during Games

The Game Planner and final town hall meeting scheduled for December



The Olympic handbook Whistler municipal employees received last month is just one of the communication pieces coming down the pipe as municipal hall readies for the 2010 Winter Olympics.

The municipality also hopes to launch an Olympic website this month at as well as distribute a comprehensive 100-page booklet for residents in December.

"The municipality understands that before residents can really embrace the Games, they need information because it directly impacts our community in a serious way," said Jessica Delaney, the municipality's senior communications officer.

"It is recognition that we are in his together. It is going to be different. It is going to be busy."

A good chunk of the resident booklet, dubbed The Game Planner, will flesh out what transportation will be like for residents in Whistler during the Games, said Delaney, and include things like bus schedules and peak periods.

What events are happening in the village during the Games, planning tips, and things people can do to prepare for the busy time will also be covered.

The budget for the project is $85,000 - the funds coming out of the municipality's community engagement budget - and Delaney said the colour booklets will be printed according to the highest environmental standards.

"We are trying to make it as cost effective as possible," said Delaney. "We are finalizing the print options, and we are cutting things to make sure it is nice and practical and useful but it is as cost-effective as possible."

Whistler residents will likely be able to pick up a copy of The Game Planner for free, whereas Whistler workers who live in Squamish or Pemberton will have to pay a small fee. The booklet will also be available for free download on, which Delaney said should be running within the next two weeks.

Beyond the website and booklet, Whistler residents can also expect to get a transportation update on Sept. 28 from the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games (VANOC).

The municipality also wants to hold a final Olympic town hall meeting in December to make sure residents get all their questions answered.

And the municipality has budgeted $150,000 to throw a community-wide party next spring after the 2010 Games are over.

Meanwhile, last month the municipality distributed copies of an internal Olympic handbook to its employees, titled "The Spark. The Fuel. The Flame . "

Among many things, the colourful, 23-page employee handbook covered shift options, an overview of life during the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and a "Dos and Don'ts for Games-time Success" section.

Some of the suggestions included planning transportation to work ahead of time, dressing appropriately for the weather, and washing hands regularly.

"It is basically a document to engage them (municipal staff), to inform them, and to get them excited and motivated for delivering the Games," explained Dennis Woods, manager of human resources for the municipality.

"There is information in there that seems basic, but our staff is very diverse. There is staff that this is their first job ever and staff that are near retirement. It is written for everyone to be fun, informative, and engaging."

The municipality spent $13,480 from its $650,000 staff and volunteer engagement budget to produce the employee handbook. And so far, the feedback from staff has been positive, said the human resources manager.

"Staff are exited and happy to get the information," said Woods.

Vancouver and Richmond - the other 2010 Winter Olympic host communities - haven't produced an Olympic handbook for their staff yet, although spokespeople from both municipalities said comprehensive training programs are in place.

Wendy Steward from the City of Vancouver said there is a robust intranet site for her employees that covers things like good health care, nutrition, and how staff can pace themselves amid the Olympic rush.

Ted Townsend from the City of Richmond also said his municipality has set up an internal Olympic website and is distributing newsletters to staff on a regular basis.