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RMOW urges businesses to play FCM game

Thousands of delegates coming to Whistler, spending estimated to be in the millions

Local businesses are being asked to play the FCM game to welcome thousands of delegates to Whistler next week.

The municipality has designed a special game for the more than 1,700 delegates coming for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) conference June 5-8.

The game not only encourages conference goers into local stores and promotes spending but also makes staff aware the conference is taking place. There is no cost to participate.

"This is a great opportunity to get them into your store or restaurant," said Shannon Story, manager of legislative services from the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW).

She wants the delegates to be welcomed by a "sea of signs" in local stores, showing them that Whistler is excited to be their host.

"I'm really trying to drive this home," she said.

Upon arrival, delegates will be given a game card with the slogan "Partnering for Success," the theme of this year's conference.

Each time a delegate spends $10 in a participating store they will have one of the letters punched in their game card. Once that's complete, and they've spent $200, they are eligible to enter a draw to win $500.

To date, 22 businesses have signed up and with just a week until the conference, Story is hoping many more will sign up and really make the game, and the conference, a success.

Brenton Smith, general manager of O & R Entertainment, which runs La Bocca, Brasserie Des Artistes and other businesses, heard about the game through a restaurant association meeting. Those two restaurants will have posters in their window and staff briefed on the game.

"With such a large group and a free opportunity to be a part of that group, it seemed like a no-brainer," said Smith.

"I think it's fantastic that the municipality has gone out of its way to create an interactive way for delegates to experience the businesses in Whistler."

The FCM is the biggest conference Whistler has ever held and there's a lot riding on its success.

"We're here to give those guests an unbelievable guest experience," said Fiona Famulak, president of the Whistler Chamber of Commerce.

"This is a test case. If we can do it once (host of conference of this size), we can do it again and again."

Some big names will be in attendance including John Baird, minister of transport, infrastructure and communities, Michael Ignatieff, leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, Jack Layton, leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada and Beverley Oda, minister of international co-operation.

The conference offers municipal leaders from across Canada an opportunity for information sharing and professional development, touching on key challenges and priorities such as climate change and affordable housing.

For the past two years municipal staff has been working on the FCM. The municipality bid to host the conference before it won the right to host the 2010 Olympics, in July 2003.

While the RMOW is not responsible for the actual four-day program, it is in charge of a large portion of the event, such as the social events, the study tours and the companion program for partners of the delegates.

Story said the RMOW has spent $400,000 from hotel tax funds on the FCM. The conference is expected to generate more than $6 million in economic spin off in the resort.

Any businesses interested in playing the FCM game can drop by the front desk at municipal hall and ask for their game kit - a poster for the window and a hole punch for the cards. It is essential to educate staff about the game too.

For more information, call the municipality's front desk at 604-932-5535.

As part of the conference, Parking Lot A, the outside lot at the Royal Bank building will be closed for parking and tented for the FCM's tradeshow, which includes more than 140 sponsors and exhibitors.