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Help yourself to some free Wi-Fi in parts of Parkdale

ReBOOT Canada has started a one-year pilot project to provide free Wi-Fi access in Parkdale, from Sorauren Avenue to Dufferin Street.

Jacqueline Remo is one of many people who are welcoming the idea of giving a data plan a break in exchange for free Wi-Fi in Parkdale.

Liz Beddall/Metro

Jacqueline Remo is one of many people who are welcoming the idea of giving a data plan a break in exchange for free Wi-Fi in Parkdale.

A pair of local organizations won’t be mad if you steal some of their internet. In fact, they’re giving it away for free.

ReBOOT Canada has started a one-year pilot project to provide free Wi-Fi access in Parkdale, from Sorauren Avenue to Dufferin Street.

“It will give you the opportunity to connect 24/7 not just when the library’s open,” said Frank Rota executive director of reBOOT.

Rota sees Internet access as a utility that should be available to everyone, not just those who can afford pricey data plans.

“If you’re creating a barrier where only people who can afford luxuries can afford to access that convenience you’re creating a discrepancy that needs to be addressed. It’s not fair,” he said.

Parkdale Activity and Recreation Centre and Parkdale Community Legal Services will host the actual Wi-Fi hotspots, with a small grant from reBOOT to cover monthly costs.

The recreation centre’s hotspot is already up and running, and the second location should launch by the end of the month.

Raveen Gopaul, the centre’s manager of technology, said people who use their services will benefit, as they often can’t afford data plans or even the price of coffee at Starbucks or other cafés offering Wi-Fi.

While cities such as New York and London, Ont. have experimented with free Wi-Fi programs, it’s something Toronto has never been able to get off the ground.

If the program can continue past its one-year pilot, Gopaul is hopeful the idea of community agencies partnering with non-profits to provide Wi-Fi might catch on.

“The city can’t seem to get their act together to provide public access to the Internet. They’ve tried over the years and they couldn’t do it, so if we can do it, let’s model it,” he said.

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