Proposed changes to RAC Ontario Section
ARES District Structure
ATTN: ALL ONTARIO ARES MEMBERS:
Having taken over as Ontario Section
Manager in October of 2005 I have seen many changes take place.
I must admit I went into the position with
blinders on not really knowing the complexities that each service has and the
concerns raised by many of its members. I have taken on these challenges with
full dedication and zest in solving many problems and concerns. I realize that
many of the decisions I have made do not meet with full approval; however, the
input and assistance that I have received and support from many RAC members has
made these tasks easier than expected. This report deals with the Amateur Radio
As most of you know, the ARES in Ontario
Section was not in great shape in September of 2005. Most of you attended a
meeting at the Ontario Provincial Police Headquarters in Orillia Ontario. At
that meeting many issues were discussed. We also received a very welcoming
address by RAC President Earl Smith, VE6NM, advising of full RAC support for the
ARES. It was very uplifting and gave a renewed pride and overall support for the
ARES Ontario program.
Many problems existed at that time.
Ontario was without a Section Manager. A huge division was seen between the
Toronto group and the rest of the province. Training was a concern and overall
acceptance and recognition by professional organizations was a concern. Also a
standard identifying type of identification, equipment and clothing were
required. Plus the overall moral was low within the organization and recognition
was one concern I heard addressed at this meeting.
Since that meeting I saw no other
volunteers step up to the plate and take on the position as Section Manager so,
with some reluctance, I accepted the appointment.
As most of you also do, I spend many hours
volunteering my time for this position and working hard behind the scenes trying
to improve the image of ARES. I was met with some opposition to some of the
suggestions and tasks. However many
of you were very supportive and gave very valuable suggestions and
recommendations that I took to heart and acted upon over the past year and a
Today the ON Section ARES is much stronger
thanks to most of you for the work you have been doing on a local front. The
changes have been slow but as of today these changes are noticeable. I worked on
behalf of you all and got TCA to include all of your ARES reports in the ARES
Section News. So much so that Ontario has the largest Section news in all of
The key word I kept hearing was
recognition of ARES was needed. With
the assistance of VPFS Bob Cooke, VE3BDB, clothing and equipment are now
available through RAC that makes us uniform and recognized at emergency
situations. The Toronto issue was dealt with and I am happy to report that
Toronto ARES District is very strong and a big supporter now of the provincial
efforts. The ARES nets are now regular both on HF and on the VHF/UHF networks
through the IRLP system, being one of the most popular nets in all of Ontario
with over 30 check-ins on average. The last Simulated Emergency Test (October
2006) was the most active and best-supported Emergency exercise that ARES has
seen in the history of SETs, with most areas of the province participating and
having over 35 formal pieces of traffic being sent through the National Traffic
System. ARES has come a long way and continues to progress thanks to all your
One of the hardest tasks that I had to
take on as Section Manager was trying to get ARES recognized as a vital
emergency communications service by the Government of Ontario. Becoming
recognized on a provincial level was not an easy task and one common complaint I
have heard over and over was that there was never any money for ARES to expand
In October 2006, the VPFS and I met with
top officials at Emergency Management Ontario (EMO) and discussed the importance
of the vital service ARES provides. I will admit it did help that both the VPFS
was, and I am, Ontario Provincial Police Officers. Being RAC officials we were very well received and accepted.
From that meeting a newly formed strong relationship was drawn between EMO and
ARES. With recent events around the world and changes with emergency management
thinking, EMO is now the top agency in Ontario when dealing with emergency
situations and millions of dollars have been spent on this organization, which
affects ARES not only on a provincial level but local municipal level also
through local field officers with EMO.
Money is starting to flow and a new ARES
VE3EMO station has been purchased with state of the art amateur equipment and
expansion to computer modes, including Win link. The new Mobile Provincial
Command Unit, which can be deployed to any area of the province, will be
equipped with amateur equipment to be used by local ARES groups if the unit is
needed in your area. The provincial Emergency Operations Centre, which has all
professional organizations from Police, Fire, EMS, all ministry organizations,
Hydro, DND, now includes the ARES, to follow suit as all other organizations at
the table under a new provincial government initiative called RABA (Regional
Area Boundary Alignment).
initiative will see all ministries' regional structures conform to the new
sectors in RABA. This is being phased in to provincial operations, which will
affect local municipalities in emergency operations. If ARES is to follow suit
at a provincial level with all other professional organizations it is very
important that we are on the same page in terms of geographic references.
a need for ARES to move forward, I sent a proposal and statement to all ARES
members in January 2007, about the proposed realignment changes and why this was
then followed it up with a survey in February 2007, to obtain your input and
concerns. The survey form was posted on the RAC website, with references to this
site sent out on the Yahoo user groups and the ARES Ontario web site along with
the EMO/ARES website. The survey was closed on March 17, 2007. The following is
a summary of the results of this survey.
have 74 registered ARES appointments in the province, from DEC, EC and AEC
levels. Of the 74 people who could
respond 35 did so. Thatís over
half, which is more than any survey expects.
As a result of this survey the following are the findings.
of 35 responses, 22 were in favour of the alignment with EMO, 7 were against and
6 had not preference either way.
of the comments were reported as follow, for and against the proposed changes:
are a few of the comments. Many of
you did not respond with any comments other than being for or against or having
no preference so it makes it hard to know what your feelings were. I have spoken
to many of you over the telephone and have come to an agreement on the proposed
after taking all your e-mails, phone calls and surveys and using my judgment as
Section Manager, I have come to the conclusion that for the best interest of the
ARES to move forward, for the betterment of the program on whole, that ARES
districts change to meet the new EMO sector and realign areas of the province to
match that of EMO.
made this decision I realize that transition will not be easy and there will be
some confusion until areas have been arranged and an understanding of new names
and sectors are done.
is why I am now asking all DECís to work with all ECís and make whatever
changes are necessary to make this work in your area.
Many of you have already formulated a plan, which will require new
appointments and positions. Both SEC Bob Gammon and I are prepared for this and
have no problem with that.
will be made shortly and a list will be completed with the new sector names and
areas will be posted. I ask for
your patience as both the SEC and I will work on this over the next few weeks.
also realize that this might not meet with the acceptance of a few and for that
all I ask is that you give this a chance and see how this will work. I trust you
will give me your support in moving ARES ahead in Ontario and making this
organization one of the strongest and most respected Emergency Communications
Organizations in all of Canada.
pledge my commitment to you all in working hard to make this happen and
hopefully the previous accomplishments within ARES have shown this.
behalf of RAC Section management I thank each of you for your continued
commitment and hard work to the program. Your
efforts are recognized and appreciated.
RAC Field Organization