Municipal staff praised for Olympic work 

Emotions ran high Tuesday night as council and municipal staff took time to reflect on the Olympics, Paralympics and all that transpired in Whistler over the past two months.

In an unusual move, Mayor Ken Melamed turned the spotlight to Whistler's senior staff during the council meeting at MY Millennium Place and asked them to speak publicly about their Winter Games experiences.

"I was having a conversation with some people involved in planning the Games and we were discussing if there was anything we could have done different," recounted Bill Barratt, chief administration officer.

"I think what was telling was there was a lot of silence, because we nailed it."

Barratt's pride was echoed across the table.

"Off the cuff, we were pretty sure we were good planners and we had seven years to plan this thing, and we are good at hosting the world," said Bob McPherson, general manager of community life.

"I am so proud at the way our staff pulled it off. At times I was embarrassed at how little I had to do day-to-day because we were so prepared."

Michele Comeau, manager of communications, spoke to the huge amount of work her staff took on to manage media requests from reporters around the world.

"I was extremely proud of our team who worked so hard in the lead up and during the Games," said Comeau.

"I think that shows in the media coverage, and we look forward to seeing that continue to come out for many years to come."

During the Games, most municipal staff took on new roles as the community welcomed the world. Accountants temporarily became bylaw officers; sustainability coordinators became communication staff.

For Keith Bennett, general manager of resort experience, Tuesday night marked his last public council meeting, as he moves into his new role as president and CEO of Whistler 2010 Sport Legacies.

"It was probably one of the most profound experiences I have ever had," said Bennett. "It has really captured the last 30 years of working in this town and working for this town to see what came out and what this town can do."

Many councillors also took time on Tuesday night to thank municipal staff for their hard work.

"I am so proud to be associated with our immediate staff at the Resort Municipality of Whistler," said councillor Tom Thomson. "People got put into very sundry positions and everyone did it exemplary."

Councillor Ralph Forysth went skiing with Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, during the Paralympics. He said the prince's staff couldn't believe the Olympics wasn't the full time job of the municipal staff.

"A new standard has been set and I think people who work for the Resort Municipality of Whistler should take an enormous sense of pride from that," said Forsyth. "Thank you."

Added councillor Ted Milner: "I am so deeply impressed with the involvement and the support of our staff here at the hall and our community in general.

"I think the whole thing was fantastic. I couldn't believe how the torch relay set everything off and it kept flaming all the way through."



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