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Seize the opportunity of 2010

Last Tuesday I attended an inspirational community event at the Raven's Cry Theatre.

Last Tuesday I attended an inspirational community event at the Raven's Cry Theatre. The Spirit of 2010 Sunshine Coast Economic Opportunity Summit offered a jam-packed program of thought-provoking presenters, all revolving around the opportunities of Vancouver 2010.

Klaus Fuerniss and a dedicated team of volunteers flawlessly organized the summit. The Sechelt Nation played host to 275 community members with Chief Garry Feschuk acting as the Master of Ceremonies. A blessing from the Sechelt elders as well as performances by the Le La La dancers ensured that the "floors were cleaned" for a very productive day.

In his opening remarks, Fuerniss challenged us all to exhibit commitment, leadership and excellence as the Sunshine Coast evaluates and seizes the opportunities presented by the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.

He reminded us of our commitment to the world and challenged us all to "optimize the opportunity presented."

With over 10,000 media representatives from every country in the world descending on our area for 17 days in February 2010, representing over three billion viewers worldwide, the opportunity to showcase our area is unparalleled. The 2010 Games are truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us all.

John Furlong provided the keynote address, offering one of the most inspirational speeches I have ever heard. If there was ever a doubt in my mind of the opportunity the Olympic Games have provided us, it is long gone.

With a clear focus on sport in his vision for the 2010 Games, Furlong left us with tremendous confidence that the Games are in the right hands. He will inspire all Canadians to strive for the "best we can be" during our Olympic opportunity. February 2010 will be a very proud time for all Canadians as we show the world our dedication to sport, arts, culture and peace.

Ray Lebland from Tourism B.C. followed with an inspiring look at the future of tourism for B.C. With a recently refueled marketing budget, Tourism B.C. is laying plans to double tourism revenues in B.C. by the year 2015. Two thirds of the financial benefits from the 2010 Games are expected to accrue to the tourism sector.

In an area like the Sunshine Coast, with its natural beauty, ease of access and abundance of recreational opportunities, this is indeed good news.

Rick Lunsford, who comes from Evansto, Wyoming, an hour's drive from Salt Lake City where the 2002 Winter Games were held, gave us great hope that we here on the Sunshine Coast could indeed capitalize on the Games to develop our tourism products.

He reminded us that our ferry link to the Lower Mainland is indeed part of the experience that we have to offer. For visitors it provides a scenic, leisurely and pleasant alternative to yet another highway drive.

After spending just a few days with us on the Coast, Rick left us with the thought, "why would any Olympic visitor want to stay anywhere else?"

With easy access to Cypress Mountain, the Sea to Sky Highway and Vancouver's Olympic venues, that is definitely something to think about.

Overall, the day was one of the most inspirational and uplifting days I've had in quite some time. The challenge and opportunity is obviously ours to seize. Let's show the world what we have here on our beautiful Sunshine Coast. If we all work together on these opportunities, this truly will be the time of our lives.

Thanks for a great day! The future is definitely bright!