Oakville ARES Update

The Oakville Amateur Radio Club’s sponsored ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Service) group was represented this Saturday by club immediate past president and former RAC director Rod, VE3RHF and myself current president and former RAC VP of PR Peter, VE3HG.

Oakville ARES is part of the Greater Toronto Ares which is lead by Section Emergency Coordinator, Rick Harrison, VA3NV. Local ARES emergency coordinators at the club level report to Rick.

Under Rick are a bunch of District Emergency Coordinators and to the best of my knowledge the DECs for the GTA North, GTA East and GTA West remain vacant positions.

This is of course not a good sign and suggests some underlying issues within the GTA which need to be addressed by the RAC Section Manager. Unfortunately, the last SM quit and Allan Boyd, VE3AJB, who lives in Little Current has been temporarily tasked with being the SM for the GTA despite the physical distance involved.

We wish Allan all the best and Oakville will do all it can to support him in building the GTA ARES organization.

Here in the GTA (under SEC Rick’s direction) we have an EC for Central, East and West Toronto; one for North and West Toronto, North York; Scarborough; York Region; no one in Etobicoke or Durham Region; a representative is in place in Brampton and Caledon; Burlington; Georgetown; Milton and now Oakville (We used to be Oakville-Milton but the formation of the SHARES group in Milton necessitated the revitalization of the Oakville ARES group which has taken place).

To say ARES is in tough shape in the GTA is pretty obvious but where there are willing volunteers (like Oakville) there’s life in the old organization yet.

In fact here in Halton Region we have another coordinating body called HRECT – the Halton Region Emergency Communications Team. How HRECT fits into RAC’s ARES structure isn’t clear as it doesn’t show up in any of the RAC organizational charts.

Also I can’t remember if any representatives from Oakville ARES has ever attended or been invited to HRECT meetings. Not saying it hasn’t happened just can’t remember it.

In the Halton Community Services Database the Burlington, Halton, Oakville Amateur Radio Clubs are listed as is Oakville REACT (which lists Rick Harrison as president) and something called T.B. Radio Communications out of Burlington.

Having a regional coordinating body for Halton is probably a pretty good idea as the governmental structure in Ontario has town, city and regional governments. If something was to happen in Halton Region of sufficient size to activate the regional emergency plan, it would only make sense that there be only one regional contact when it comes to Amateur Radio and ARES involvement.

Having said that, the fact that HRECT isn’t listed on the provincial ARES page on the RAC site is a concern.

A couple of things Rick pointed out to Rod and myself was our EC needs to be a RAC member (although ARES members do not need to belong to RAC and there is some thought out there that RAC is trying to divorce itself from ARES which may or may not happen) and this is something we committed to Rick we’d fix. We also haven’t been as  committed to submitting our monthly reports (there’s always paperwork) and we again committed to fixing the reporting issue.

On a positive note, Rick said RAC officials had found some of the documentation in regards to ARES members completing the RAC Emergency Coordinator’s Certification Examination. A whole bunch of us completed the exam last March and we haven’t heard a thing since. Well now Rick tells us that some of the exams have been found and since most of us sent in the exams by email we can just resubmit and now somebody will look at them now.

Amateur Radio has always attracted a diverse and very independent-minded group of individuals and ARES is no different. Working together in teams is a challenge for some of our members and always has been. Being part of an organized group of volunteers is an accomplishment that not all can access easily. But we continue to try.

The Oakville ARES group, part of and sponsored by the Oakville Amateur Radio Club, has a long and proud history of serving the citizens of the Town of Oakville which we intend to continue.

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