Canadian Rental Service

CRA President’s Message: Picking up the pieces

By Tim Ranson   

Canadian Rental Association

As I write this in late May, I am sharing office space with one of the many evacuees from the Fort McMurray fire. On a personal level, he has a wife and a one-year-old who have had to fly east to stay with family, and he is not alone in this forced separation experience.

The journey back to their residence in Fort McMurray begins with one of many conversations with his insurance providers. For some, coverage for temporary accommodations may be running out with no firm return date to their homes. They are beginning to realize the logistical difficulties they and thousands of other residents face in the next few months. Oilsands corporate discussions are now centering on business recovery, getting the resources and manpower into the community to ensure the plant sites are operational and producing. To many outside of Alberta it may appear the emergency is over. This is not the case. The bustling community of Fort McMurray primarily exists to support the oilsands industry, and it takes a community of 80,000 to do this. The expectations of many are the workers will go back into Fort McMurray and resume normal activity. However, it remains a disaster zone as the fire has left a wake of destruction, with entire neighbourhoods completely gone and soot, ash and burned-out vehicles everywhere.

Those whose homes remain standing are soon to recognize the extent of their personal damages. Instructions from the municipality will advise them to take refrigerators and freezers full of rotting food to the curb for disposal. Replacing furniture, cleaning or replacing carpets with serious smoke damage, repainting and removing the ever-present layer of ash and soot will be a monumental task. The municipality and the emergency services are working to restore gas, power, and sewer services, and a boil water advisory will remain for an extended period of time. Our workers who have been called back to work are being provided with particulate carbon filters to be worn during cleanup and when the smoke advisories are high. The work is dirty, but must be done to ensure clean, safe environments for the workers and their families to eventually return to homes and schools, and then to construct the new communities from where the ashes now lay.

Through all of this, Canadians have been very generous in support of the victims of this community. The headline in the local news indicated over $100 million has been donated to the Red Cross Fort McMurray Relief Fund. These dollars will go a long way to assist the physical rebuilding of the community. Let us not forget the impact on the individuals, families and the community over the next months and years. The scars on the landscape will fade with time, as will the scars on the many residents who called Fort McMurray home. The rebuilding of this Alberta city is about to begin and the Canadian Rental Association member companies are back now to assist.

I would like to congratulate the scholarship award winners for this school year, which was the largest class of scholarships the ARA and CRA has ever awarded. In total, $88,500 was distributed. In Canada, we awarded scholarships to applicants from B.C., Alberta, and Manitoba. I bring these scholarships to your attention as we often find there are too few applicants to award in each category. The value of these awards can range from $1,000 to as much as $4,000 and may be combined.


To take advantage of these scholarship funds and encourage the education of our membership I encourage you to share this information with family members and employees who are interested in furthering their careers within the rental industry. 

Tim Ranson is Environment, Health and Safety manager at Finning (Canada) / The Cat Rental Store in Edmonton, Alta. He has worked in the rental industry for more than 20 years. Tim sat on the ARA Trade Show Committee and the ARA Risk Management Committee and helped start its Professional Driver Improvement Program. He was also a speaker/panelist over the past three years at the ARA Rental Show learning sessions.

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