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VANOC starts to wind down

1,400 paid staff leaving before Paralympics begin


The Olympic Games are over. And the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) is wasting no time paring down operations.

The day after the closing ceremonies, 1,400 paid workers were packing their desks and preparing to exit the organization.

The discharge of the staff members marks the beginning of VANOC's dissolution.

Maureen Douglas, director of communications, said over the next few months workers and volunteers will continue to part ways with the organization in chunks until VANOC is eventually disbanded completely.

"The next month is significant as we transition from the Olympics to the Paralympics," said Douglas. "Then it is just that much more dramatic when we finish the Paralympic Games on March 21."

VANOC will have 4,000 staff for the Paralympics, with many of those roles being short term paid contracts. The Paralympics will also require 6,500 volunteers.

At the end of March, the organization drops down to a few hundred people. And it will continue to get smaller until the last person turns out the lights, said Douglas, a Sea to Sky resident. Her last day is March 23.

"It is an amazing organization, and there is such a broad variety of skills required. And all those people will go out into the Canadian marketplace to enhance the workforce across the country," said Douglas.

"Some people are going to go back to wherever home is. Some people are leaving Vancouver, and some people have decided to make Vancouver their home after their experiences."

Workers have fulfilled many different skill sets within VANOC - from communications, to marketing, to planning, to CAD technicians - so the seven-year-old organization's dissolution might not have too dramatic an impact on the workforce, said Douglas. Locally, there are about 50 to 60 long-time Sea to Sky residents who have worked with VANOC for several years.

To prepare workers for the transition VANOC has been putting on workshops and information sessions for the past half year.

"Full-time staff at VANOC have had workshops to help them plan their next career move, to prepare for leaving a project like this and help them think through what the next stage is for them," said Douglas. "Even while we are in the midst of the Games, everyone who has been in the full-time workforce is ensuring they have the tools to finish up their role successfully."

Douglas didn't know the exact day VANOC would cease to exist, but she said the organization still has significant fiscal reporting and legal responsibilities to oversee after the Paralympics end on March 21.