Olympic organizers are offering flexible opportunities for Sea to Sky residents to volunteer for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in an effort to encourage those who expect to be working in 2010 to also get involved as volunteers.
Donna Savage, VANOC's workforce specialist for the region, made a presentation to Council at Monday's (Oct. 20) regular meeting. She said shorter evening shifts and fewer required shifts for some roles are being offered to help more locals get involved.
"We recognize that people are going to be very, very busy in the service industry," Savage said.
VANOC's original volunteer requirement was for 13 shifts in a 21-day period, but for some roles it's possible to spread those 13 shifts over a two-month span, she said. Also, for some positions the required shifts can be reduced to eight or nine.
Savage offered to help facilitate VANOC's new youth volunteer program, which requires youth age 15 and over to apply as a group of 10 people with a chaperone. She said groups of fewer than 10 youth can get in contact with her and she'll help match smaller groups to form the required group numbers.
People who are interested in volunteering should start by completing the online application at Vancouver2010.com.
Councillor Tim Wake said he's been through the initial volunteer orientation session and it was "exciting."
"I would just encourage anyone who's keen to sign up," Wake said. "Team spirit is building, so jump on board."
VANOC is also launching its homestay program on Nov. 8 for people who may have rooms available for volunteers or family members of athletes, Savage said. Hosting a volunteer or family member is another way for locals to get involved in the Games, she said.
PAN moves forward
Three years after receiving first reading at Council, Whistler's Protected Areas Network (PAN) policy moved forward with second reading this week. The policy identifies Whistler's sensitive ecosystems, outlining seven kinds of ecosystems and protection levels, and provides practical procedures for an ecosystem-based approach to land-use planning.
The PAN policy has been developed over the past six years and has included extensive input from various municipal and community groups, organizations and public consultation. Heather Beresford, municipal manager of environmental stewardship, said a public hearing is planned for Nov. 3 and adoption of PAN is eyed in mid-November.
PAN ratings range from 1A, which is applied to wetlands and is the most stringent - recommending no human uses at all and no structures built - to PAN 3, which is aimed at areas already altered and suitable for development.
Since first reading in November 2005, areas in Whistler that are already developed have been excluded from the PAN development permit area, Beresford said. The idea is for PAN to target larger parcels of undeveloped land within municipal boundaries, not to make a development permit process onerous for a homeowner that wants to build a deck, she said.
Mayor Ken Melamed said while the policy can't undo existing zoning, PAN allows municipal officials to take a proactive approach on sensitive land before a development application is received. When PAN is approved, landowners of sensitive parcels could be approached to begin discussions on conservation covenants or other protection, he said.
Beresford said an environmental protection bylaw will be developed to allow the enforcement of PAN, and rezoning and development permit applications and procedures will be updated.
2011 earliest possibility for sewer
Municipal staff is again applying for a grant to help pay for a sewer for the homes and other lots along Alta Lake Road.
More than half the septic fields on 39 lots along Alta Lake are failing, and untreated wastewater is being discharged into nearby ditches and the lake. Repeated applications over the past nine years for grants from the provincial and federal governments to pay for half the cost of the project have been unsuccessful.
But even if the latest grant application is successful, the work isn't expected to begin until 2011, Melamed said.
"It was one of the capital projects that had to be pushed out to address the budget challenges," he said of the long-awaited sewer. "It's a post-2010 project and it is subject to receiving the grant."
The municipality's share of the project's updated budget of $3.76 million is set aside in the 2011 budget, Melamed said. With concerns in the community about the level of capital spending, the sewer was deferred until after the Olympic and Paralympic Games, he said.
Financial expertise sought
The municipality has secured the expertise of a group of people with experience in government finances to help with its long-term financial planning.
Melamed said the municipality's Long Term Financial Plan, which was originally completed in the late 1990s, is being updated and a task force or advisory group has been created for the job.
Councillor Bob Lorriman attended the group's first meeting recently and said the group is "very impressive." The message coming out of the group's first meeting is that Whistler is starting from a strong financial position even though there are challenges coming because the resort has reached "build-out."
The new Long Term Financial Plan will consider the near, medium and long term and will provide a foundation for facing future challenges, Melamed said.
The names of the advisory group members will be posted on whistler.ca and they include people such as Ken Dobell, former city manager for Vancouver and former deputy minister to the Premier, Melamed said.
The volunteer group's expertise will be an enormous benefit to the community, Melamed said.