Getting Games volunteers not an easy job
The 2015 Canada Winter Games will be the largest volunteer effort in Prince George history.
With as many as 4,500 people expected to donate their time to support the effort, no previous community event comes close to matching the manpower required to stage the Games. Such a large-scale event also demands volunteers through the planning stages. Although the Games are two years away, the process of organizing the workforce is well underway.
Prince George residents have been preparing for the largest cultural and sporting event in its history since a successful bid in 2010. But since hiring a manager to lead the volunteer team, Games staff have been increasing efforts to attract volunteers.
Christine Nicholls carries the title of Manager, Volunteer Workforce for the 2015 Canada Winter Games. She’s been filling the role for four months, having moved north from the Lower Mainland in September.
“You’ve got a great volunteer base here,” she says. “But by the end of this, you’re going to have a much bigger volunteer base that has a greater capacity to do any event because you’ll never have an event this size come back. Whatever you guys end up bidding on to bring to Prince George will be a piece of cake compared to this.
“The confidence level, the experience, all of that is going to really change how the North is and what they’re going to end up being able to put on.”
The volunteer effort includes three phases of engagement. It begins with planning volunteers, who the Games staff are in the process of bringing in. These individuals will lead their respective departments leading into and through the Games. Six of these job postings are currently listed on the Games’ website: accommodation chair, environmental services chair, food services chair, materials management chair, security chair, and village services chair.
After the first wave of volunteers are hired, the Games team will secure a team for the Pre-Games phase. Beginning in February 2014, these volunteers will perform preparation duties for the year leading into the Games.
Nicholls encourages people who expect to be tied up during the Games to work during the second phase. Working pre-Games may also provide more flexibility. Games staff plan to give volunteers four-, six- and eight-hour shifts. However, areas during the Games may require volunteers to put in 10-hour shifts.
“There are a lot of City people that need to be working during the Games window,” she says. “This is a way for them to be a volunteer for the Canada Winter Games. They can complete their 36 hours, they get their full volunteer package and then they have their accreditation and they have access to all of the events that are available to volunteers during the Games window, but they’re still going to be available to work.”
The pre-Games phase will include accreditation assembly. Nicholls notes that as many as 5,000 pieces will need to be provided. They plan to start running their accreditation office three months before the Games begin.
The bulk of the volunteers will work during the Games. The multi-sports event is scheduled for Feb. 13 to March 1, 2015. Nicholls says thousands of individuals on the Games Time team will work from Feb. 9 to March 6, 2015.
A variety of positions will be filled. The volunteer workforce even includes family team members who will be asked to carry flags and cheer on other provinces to help visitors feel more at home.
The volunteer team will include up to 1,000 officials. They’ll work under 500 paid officials brought in from throughout the province and elsewhere in Canada.
On top of the many volunteers, there will be about 50 full-time paid staff working at the Games. Ten of those positions, including the one held by Nicholls, have been filled already.
Prince George will play host to 2,350 athletes from 10 provinces and three territories during the Games. Nicholls expects about 5,000 friends and family will visit the city. The Games team expects 100 members of the national media and more than 1,000 sponsor representatives and VIPs stepping foot in the city.
“We’re expecting about 15,000 extra people in Prince George over the 18-day period, so whichever way you look at it, lots of people, lots of activity, lots of excitement.”
Volunteers are required to fill out application forms, pass criminal records checks and participate in orientation sessions. They can participate in either the Opening or Closing Ceremonies. They’ll receive handbooks, uniforms, free meals and snacks, access to the venues, access to the transit system and Games village activities.
Gifts and certificates of appreciation will be presented to volunteers. They will also receive invites to a thank-you event.
For more information or to sign up to volunteer, visit the Games website at www.canadagames2015.ca.