Ever see Joan McIntyre in her pyjamas? It’s not the most
ministerial of sights, but there can come a time when the shedding of code and
conduct is all part of the game. And so the local MLA and Minister of State for
Intergovernmental Relations joined the underdressed ranks of VANOC’s
2010 Winter Games Homestay Program for
its launch last week at Squamish’s Brew Pub.
The idea is simple enough. Though the International Olympic
Committee generates billions in profits, VANOC does not. Just look at the whole
celebration plaza affair. In the absence of a trickle down, organizers are
relying on volunteers. And then still more volunteers to house those volunteers.
“It’s an absolutely fabulous way to engage in the Games, and a
great way to connect with them,” said Maureen Douglas, VANOC director of
There are 1,000 volunteers that have yet to be accommodated.
While VANOC hasn’t released budget figures regarding its own spending on
accommodations, it is asking that homeowners in Pemberton, Whistler and
Squamish open their doors and fridges to global volunteers for up to 20 nights.
VANOC will release its updated budget on Jan. 30.
And there are requirements. Those looking to take part in the
program must have a private bedroom, provide a daily breakfast and assist with
transportation. Access to laundry and kitchen facilities is also encouraged. A
team leader will drop by the applicants house to make sure things are up to
VANOC is encouraging applicants to check with their home
insurance provider to ensure adequate coverage; to that end, a third party
liability of $1 million is recommended.
In return, homeowners will be privy to ticket packages at
Whistler Sliding Centre and Whistler Olympic Park. There are different packages
for different commitments. At the top end, if someone houses a volunteer for 20
nights, that person becomes a gold level participant and gets access to 16
tickets. There will be a maximum of four tickets for any one event.
The tickets are not to be sold but can be given away to family
The tickets are coming out of VANOC's own supply, not out of
the public allotment of tickets. Details on the program are available at
“What we need now is for you to help us do a job that will take
the Games over the top,” said Dan Doyle, VANOC liaison for Squamish.
Mira Leyung, a Vancouver-born figure skater who competed in the
2006 Torino Olympics, took to the podium to praise the program. “Volunteering
is not just how we run the events,” she said. “It’s how we get involved, even
if we don’t get to volunteer in the Games.”
Liza Rogers also said a few words. She journeyed to Sydney,
Australia, in 2000 to volunteer for those Olympics. “They were so happy to
share their Olympic experience with me,” she said.
“It’s absolutely the best way to experience the Games,” said
In other Olympic accommodations developments, the deadline
extension for a request for proposals (RFP) to provide accommodation on cruise
ships docked in Squamish appears to have borne some fruit.
“We’ve got a bunch of RFPs in,” said Doyle. “We’ll be evaluating them and seeing where we can go. We’re pushing towards spring to get that lined up.”