The Emergency Measures Radio Group (EMRG), also known as Ottawa ARES, has ceased operation. The repeaters will remain operational for another 5 years, thanks to the support of Ottawa Fire Services, who owns the repeater sites.

In 2021 the management team, with input from members, assessed the current state of operation for the group and the likelihood that Amateur radio would ever be called on to provide communications assistance. There had been no training or exercises for several years and the last callout for communications services for the City of Ottawa was in the 2003 power outage. We felt we needed to be honest with members about the reality of ever being called and we had to be honest with the City about our state of readiness as a group.

In the mid 1990s, the City of Ottawa was made up of multiple Municipalities and cell phones were new and expensive. The communications used by Police, Fire and Public Works consisted of analog base stations, while a few agencies had repeaters. The communications capacity available to most agencies was barely sufficient to support their operations, so in an emergency, alternate communications were needed. This was the same technology used by Amateur radio in Ottawa and with Multiple Amateur radio clubs and a lot of innovation in repeaters, Amateur radio in Ottawa could provide significant communications capability.

Over time, the analog systems used by local agencies have given way to digital trunked systems with significant capacity, and almost everyone has a cell phone. At the same time, Amateurs have gotten older, clubs are folding and access to repeater sites for club repeaters has become more difficult, so some are no longer in operation. The capabilities and capacity that Amateur radio can provide, compared to what organizations normally rely on has reached a point where Amateur radio is no longer a viable emergency communications resource in Ottawa.

When all else fails, there is still Starlink and other satellite systems, commercial radio systems as well as portable cellular and radio sites. Itís also important to realize that if everything else has failed, Amateur radio infrastructure may also have failed.
This does not mean that Amateurs canít still provide emergency communications. There are search and rescue groups, the Red Cross and others, who would welcome members who have radio communications skills. Amateurs are encouraged to look for ways to continue to provide service to their community. Amateur radio remains an innovative and interesting hobby.

The website will remain available for anyone who wants to take a look through the files.

Peter Gamble Ė VE3BQP

Emergency Measures Radio Group & Ottawa ARES
Two Names, One Group, One Purpose