Williams Lake director of recreation services Geoff Paynton is one of several locals chosen to be a torch bearer for the 2015 Canada Winter Games.

Williams Lake director of recreation services Geoff Paynton is one of several locals chosen to be a torch bearer for the 2015 Canada Winter Games.

Locals to bear Canada Winter Games 2015 torch

Geoff Paynton is one of several locals who will carry the Canada Winter Games 2015 torch.

Geoff Paynton is one of several locals who will carry the Canada Winter Games 2015 torch.

The games are being held in Prince George from Feb. 13 to Mar. 1, with torch celebrations taking place from Friday. Oct. 17 in Victoria to Tuesday, Nov. 4 in Prince George.

“I was nominated by somebody, not sure who it was,” said Paynton, who is the city’s director of community services. “I guess I’ll find out eventually who it was.”

Aside from the torch bearing, Paynton has been involved with the Canada Games nationally for 20 years and is presently a director on the executive committee for the host society.

“It will be a great opportunity to show Canada what we have,” Paynton said of the games being hosted in Prince George. “I don’t know if people understand how good the facilities in the north are and how great living up here is.”

The north is a great place to live with awesome athletes and coaches, he added.

“It’s going to be a big, big, big deal. We deserve to have an event like this and for the people who live here it’s going to be awesome.”

The games will run for 20 days with two full week-long sessions.

Half the sports will be during the first session with those athletes arriving and leaving, while the second session will have the same pattern, including a day before, day after, with a few days in between.

“It’s like having 23 national championships taking place at the same time,” Paynton suggested.

As a board volunteer Paynton attended the winter games in Halifax in 2011 to see and learn how the games are run.

“I’d also been to Prince Edward Island in 2009 for the summer games on mission staff for Team BC,” he recalled. “We were the support group for the athletes and coaches to make their lives easier so they could just go and compete and not have to worry about everything else.”

A total of 4,500 volunteers will be needed to run the entire games, although people don’t have to volunteer for the entire games.

Recently the committee announced it will provide transportation for volunteers coming from communities outside Prince George.

To sign up to volunteer people can go to http://www.canadagames2015.ca.

“There are tons of volunteer roles, everything from taking tickets, working at venues, interacting with athletes and coaches to driving,” he said.

“I don’t know all the individual athletes that will be on the teams and many of the teams are being finalized as we speak,” Paynton said. “I am not aware of somebody from Williams Lake but I bet there will be somebody.”

Other torch bearers from our community are Irene Berns, Brian Stefan, Kaylee Billyboy, and Edward Kozuki. Watch for interviews with them in future editions of the Tribune.