Canada's Weatheradio service to be potentially taken off the air?

Peter Potvin

Staff member
May 20, 2018
159
69
6
Pembroke, ON, Canada
/Begin "rant":

This video was shared to me by one of the moderators in our Discord server, which appears that some (if not all) of the Weather-radio Canada transmitters will be shut down in the coming months. This prompted me to take a look into the situation and see what is out there. Below are a couple of the resources I found regarding today's statement and some of the messages broadcast today across some transmitters on the Weatheradio Canada network:
As a registered CANWARN member in the province of Ontario, this news really concerns me because there's a lot of regions in Canada that do not have reliable access to cell phone, television and FM radio services where the Weatheradio broadcasts can be received.

For example, recently in Ontario the AlertReady and WEA (Wireless Emergency Alerting) systems only broadcast when Tornado Warnings and (unrelated to weather) AMBER Alerts are issued, and not updated. This is also the case with Environment Canada's WeatherCAN app for iOS and Android devices. Weatheradio Canada provides you with updates to alerts issued and in effect for your broadcast area, which can be handy for those who want to be weather-ready and do not have reliable access to cellular, television and FM radio services.

Speaking of reliable cellular, television and FM radio services... What if those services are offline, and your life depends on receiving these critical alerts? If Weatheradio Canada isn't available to provide you with them, this can put you in a life-threatening situation where immediate action is required.

Also, I will say that I understand the point that is made in the CBC article linked above stating that the cost to run and maintain these transmitters is prohibitive when you aren't able to know how many people are using the service in the first place. With so many websites and services tracking the usage of their platforms, this concerns me on a privacy standpoint as Weatheradio Canada doesn't require you to opt-in to anything which means that your activity can't be tracked, since a lot of Canadians don't want their every move recorded and their data sold.

Now back to the point of cellular, television and FM radio services... The first two of three services I listed require you to pay a subscription fee to a service provider in order to receive these services. If you don't, you risk having your service suspended for non-payment. In Canada, we pay significantly more for these services than other countries, including the United States. For some users, these costs are prohibitive and said users end up going without these services. This means that their only access to life-saving information is via radiowaves, such as Weatheradio Canada or FM radio.

Speaking of FM radio, there's some regions in Canada that do not have access to FM radio stations. Take the Highway 41 corridor that spans from Eastern to Southern Ontario for example. About 60-70% of the area in this corridor has no FM radio station signals however there are Weatheradio signals in almost 95% of the area. My source? I drive through this area on a bi-monthly basis, and have tested this many times while driving through the area.

As you can see from the United States who has a "Weather Ready Nation" initiative, Weatheradio services are an essential part of helping citizens stay aware of any life-threatening events in their area. Shutting this service down can have a significant impact on the lives of these citizens, which from what I've written above could result in lives being lost when they could've been saved.

/End "rant".
 

Randy Jennings

Supporter
May 18, 2013
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This reminds me of a few US cities that took out outdoor warning sirens to save costs because "everyone has a cell phone". At least one city (Garland TX) put them back in after realizing that despite the limitations of outdoor warning sirens, many folks still relied on them. Penny wise and pound foolish, especially in remote areas.
 
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rdale

EF5
Mar 1, 2004
7,264
802
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skywatch.org
Sirens shouldn't necessarily be removed from most areas, but they shouldn't be added.

Weather Radio has pretty much run its course too. Nobody uses one, and it still is running on 1990s technology with no use of the polygon.
 
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