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Free Wi-Fi in Vancouver Parks?

Vancouver Park Board Commissioner Trevor Loke wants the city to investigate the feasibility of free public Wi-Fi access.

Park board commissioner Trevork Loke says people would be better able to enjoy public spaces

Two friends consult their mobile device. Park Board Commissioner Trevor Loke thinks the city should offer free Wi-Fi to improve quality of life and enhance the economy. (CBC)

Vancouver Park Board Commissioner Trevor Loke will introduce a notice-of-motion tonight at the regular board meeting tonight asking the city to investigate the feasibility of free public Wi-Fi access.

Loke says the City of Vancouver called last year for expanded digital access and with the increasing importance of technology and digital media to the city's economy, it is time to deliver on that promise.

He says free Wi-Fi would also enhance people enjoyment of the city's public spaces, its beaches and parks.

Vancouver Park Board Commissioner Trevor Loke says people should be able to access their mobile devices everywhere in the city, even by the beach. (CBC)

"There are times where the only place I can get Wi-Fi is at a local coffee shop, and I don't think that there is anything wrong with someone working on their computer or reading a book on their Kindle in a park," he said. 

"I also think that there's no reason two people can't go to a park and have a business meeting and connect to their Wi-Fi while enjoying nature."

Other cities offer free Wi-Fi

Loke says there is free public Wi-Fi in Quebec City, Denver, Colorado and Auckland. He says it benefits business, tourism and residents because the more connected people are, the better it is for the city.

A quick sampling of public opinion found mixed reaction to the proposal.

Thomas Bodnar says he goes to the beach to unplug.

"I think you go to the beach to be by the water and and look at the scenery, and swim. I don't think you go there to surf the web," he said. "It might have its benefits if you're looking for a place to go for lunch quickly, but I really can't see too much benefit to it."

But his friend Janelle Sillje liked the idea.

I think it's great!" she said. "People will go outside more and you can just do whatever down by the beach."

Loke's notice-of-motion asks city staff to investigate the  costs and report back with a project time line.

VOTE: should there be free Wi-Fi in Vancouver parks?

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