Laura Landry

Laura Landry

Nanaimo community responds to call for Games volunteers

NANAIMO – Organizers and volunteers ramp up final preparations for 2014 B.C. Summer Games.

When Dirk Heydemann, director of photography for the 2014 B.C. Summer Games, checked in with volunteer photographers to confirm they were still committed to shooting the Games’ team pictures and medal presentations, about 15 of them said they had to drop out because of family or health issues, they were moving and other reasons.

Fearing he might lose even more photographers, Heydemann put out an urgent call for replacements on social media, where respondents quickly replaced most of  the losses.

“I’d like to have 50 to 60 photographers throughout the weekend,” Heydemann said. “We’ve got some people who are volunteering just four hours and some who are volunteering the whole four days, so I feel much better.”

Attracting and committing volunteers has ranked among the top challenges for games organizers. About 3,200 are needed to support operations and the 3,500 athletes plus coaching staff.

“Accommodations and security, they’re last ones to fill up and they’re the most critical because it’s all for the security of the athletes and ensuring they’re provided a secure space where they can get proper rest,” said Jeff Lott, president.

Volunteer registrations picked up the first week of July as people stepped up to register and have criminal record checks done.

Lott, a self-described eternal optimist, doesn’t anticipate problems leading up to the Games. With volunteer issues sorted out, organizers have turned to fine-tuning the logistics of feeding and moving people and equipment, including setting up kitchen facilities in John Barsby Secondary School, which will serve 35,000 meals during the Games.

About 70 buses will shuttle people between competition venues and sleeping accommodations. Another 40 cargo vehicles will transport food, sport and sleeping equipment from an inventory stored at the old Madill building on Bowen Road.

“We’re pretty well done the planning at this point,”  said Jenn Houtby-Ferguson, director of promotions. “Now we’re into implementation and pretty much ready to push the start button.”