Message from the President

Greetings all NORAC members,

For those who are not aware, the annual general meeting was held on the 18th of October with the following installed as officers of the club:

  • President Bob Byrne, VE7EZI
  • Vice President Aaren Jensen, VA7AEJ
  • Treasurer   Bob Byrne, VE7EZI
  • Secretary Samantha (Sam) Vincent, VE7SDV
  • Director Jesse Lloyd, VE7LYD
  • Programs Murray Hainer, VE7MH

First, I wish to thank the past executives for the their work over the last number of years in keeping the club viable – this was done while many of us (myself included) were more or less content to sit on the sidelines.  Thanks guys, one and all.  Secondly, congratulations and thanks to those who stepped up to fill the positions for the current year.  Last but not least, thanks to all of you stalwart members for keeping your membership up to date. Club dues are the principle source of income that pays the bills for our repeater network, insurance and other club activities.

As most of you are aware, the club has experienced a slight decline in membership and activities over the past few years.  There is no one particular reason for this.  Suffice it to say that all of us know we have reached a nadir in both membership and activity levels. I have, myself, been relatively inactive for the past five or six years. This inactive period resulted in minimal personal station operation to the extent that, when I once again checked into the BC Public Service Net in mid-September, the net control station Drew, VA7DR, nearly fell off his chair – he checked the log and informed me that my last check-in was 2006 – really? Wow, how time flies!

While we have experienced a decline, this is not I think, an uncommon occurrence in many social clubs, service clubs, fraternal organizations and professional/technical and other associations and organizations – it has been said this happens in cycles, and I think there is an element of truth in that.  We all have busy lives – even those of us who are retired or semi-retired. Most of us also have embraced the digital age fully with our computers, tablets, hand-held devices, etc., and perhaps ham radio is, to some, not as relevant as it once was.

Whatever the reasons may be, it is clear enough that there is still sufficient interest in the club as evidenced by those who renew their yearly memberships.  It would be an interesting conversation to have to learn why this is so. The reason for my own continued to support of NORAC with dues during my sabbatical – was one of mainly of not letting down the side while keeping our extensive repeater network operational, even if I wasn’t too active in using them -- this may apply to many of you as well.

After attending a couple of recent meetings, (after an extended period away), I get the feeling that the main focus of the Club, has been the care and feeding of the repeaters – a major and very important part of what we do to be sure.  While the work done in this respect is very laudable, it is not I think, the only area of activity to which we might aspire.  The original purposes of the club, as outlined  in the founding bylaws, include:

  • promoting interest in amateur radio (amongst ourselves and others);
  • sharing knowledge and interest in the art and science of amateur radio and electronics within the Club and the community at large;
  • fostering cooperation among groups with similar objectives;
  • providing emergency communications in the interest of the community;
  • establishing and maintaining emergency and communication systems and networks;  
  • and acquiring radio, electronic and other equipment for all of these purposes.

Assuming that these goals and objectives are still valid then I believe we need to start talking to each other about our individual collective vision for the future of the club.

By way of starting the dialogue I would suggest that some of the areas of discussion might include:

    Communication – for a group organized around wireless communication, one would think we’d be pretty good at communicating.  What can we do to increase communication amongst ourselves and to those who might be interested in what we do?  How should we be utilizing our radio frequencies, the website, the Ragchew newsletter, etc.?
    Membership – what should we be doing to increase membership, and to what purpose. What about engaging former members – is there still interest there?  What about the large numbers of qualified North Okanagan amateurs who have never joined NORAC, what can we offer that might interest them in becoming members?
    Programs and Activities – this perhaps is the most immediate topic of discussion.  What do you want the club to be?  What kind of programs -- ham related or community service are you interested in.  What do you see as our primary purpose, and how much time and effort are you able and willing to devote to the enterprise?

At the current level of paid membership, the club may have difficulty, in the not too distant future, of meeting fixed expense obligations.  As I see it, there are only a few ways of meeting expenses.  The first and historically most important of these is membership subscriptions –  the more members we have, the better is the financial health.  Another method is by grants and endowments if available and accessible.  The last method is by direct fund raising schemes, which we have done in the past.  The two latter methods require some kind of charitable or other non–profit tax status of which, at present, I am uncertain of whether we qualify.  The bottom line seems to be, that without either increasing our membership base or seeking alternative sources of capital, the only other course would be a membership fee increase, and no one likes fee increases.  I think we need to talk about this and formulate a financial strategy that will allow continued operations while allowing for future capital expenditures, if deemed necessary or desired by the members.

There is a substantial amount of talent and knowledge, both in the ranks of the ‘old timers’ and in the more recently joined members.  While participation in events such as the Winter Carnival parade, Falkland Stampede, Saturday morning breakfast meeting, and the like are an important and visible part of what we do, it’s my hope that together we continue to meet our core objectives by participation in these activities as well as revisiting our position with respect to emergency communications preparedness and training, conducting  basic qualification courses, having a club presence in Field Day activities, holding other social events, etc., while at the same time growing our membership.

As a first step, might I suggest we begin by communicating with one another –  let’s use those repeaters, come out for a Saturday morning coffee, contribute an item for the Ragchew or the website.  Any and all comments, suggestions, ideas, critiques, or other contributions to the dialogue are welcome.