Small army of volunteers needed for successful Summer Games

NANAIMO – Event expected to contribute millions of dollars to Nanaimo’s economy over four days in July

Sports competition will heat up next summer when Nanaimo hosts the 2014 B.C. Summer Games.

The games happen July 17-20 when close to 4,000 athletes, coaches and games officials roll into town, bringing thousands of spectators and supporters in their wake.

Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce members got a rundown of what to prepare for and the opportunities awaiting local businesses from Jeff Lott, president of the 2014 games board of directors and former RCMP superintendent of the Nanaimo detachment, who spoke a chamber luncheon Wednesday.

“On the 16th they will start to arrive and by suppertime on the 17th there will be 4,000 people from across British Columbia arriving in Nanaimo that will include about 3,200 athletes between the ages of 12-18,” Lott said. “An economic study done in 2008 [following the Kelowna summer games] found that it generated over $2.6 million over that four-day period.”

Another economic impact study will be done for the 2014 Nanaimo games.

Training provided to coaches, athletes, officials and volunteers has the potential to leave a living legacy of new expertise and experience, while a legacy fund from the games could also benefit Nanaimo for years afterward.

“In the 2002 Nanaimo summer games there was $197,000 left at the end of the day, which went back into the community, so it went back to sporting activities and different community organizations,” Lott said.

The board of directors have been chosen. Now the board has the task of gathering up 3,200 volunteers to help run the games.

Lott admits there will be challenges, one of which will be finding accommodations and enough foam mattresses for 3,200 competitors.

The school district is offering its schools to bunk athletes, but some facilities in the Cedar area might not be available after the end of the 2013-14 school year.

Finding adequate transportation to move thousands of participants to venues each day will pose its own hurdles. Vehicles needed to transport participants over the weekend of the Surrey 2012 games briefly became the fourth-largest transport fleet in the province.

City councillor Diana Johnstone was operations manager for 1985 and 2002 and said one thing Nanaimo won’t likely have a challenge with is finding volunteers.

In both previous games residents were eager to participate and she expects 2014 to be no different.

Feeding all those participants is one of the biggest challenges. Roughly 50,000 meals will be prepared and served during the four days of the games.

“To ensure all the nutritional needs are met and to prepare that many boxed lunches in a day and healthy breakfasts, that’s a huge, huge job,” Johnstone said.

Base funding to the tune of $600,000 for the games will come chiefly from the province through the B.C. Games Society.

The city will provide $5,000 in cash plus in-kind services through use of facilities and staff. Corporate partners, local businesses and industry will also give cash and in-kind goods and services.