It’s May. You’ve decided to pack up your hiking boots, some food, water, a tent, and like so many others you’re taking off for the long weekend into one of Canada’s national parks. During the winter you’ve been hitting the gym, so you’re feeling pretty confident. You start to ascend that steep scramble of a mountain when the unthinkable happens; you’ve slipped down a deep ravine and broken your leg. There isn’t anyone coming to help you, no one knows where you are. What do you do?
Habit would have us reaching to grab our cell phones to dial 911. Up until now this would have been a fruitless effort, as logic would tell me you most likely wont get a signal. However that is about to change.
This year alone Parks Canada is set to install wireless Internet access hotspots in 50 of its parks, and is expecting to triple that number over the next three years. This is not a new idea. Manitoba started installing Wi-Fi hotspots in its parks last year; Ontario’s provincial parks authority has been experimenting with wireless Internet access since 2010.
Last year about 20 million people walked through Parks Canada’s 44 national parks, 167 national historic sites and four marine conservation areas, a number that has been steadily decreasing. The move is part of a push by the national parks agency to attract a younger generation of urbanites through its gates. But the news has been met with some backlash.
Many Canadians see parks as places to escape the constant hum of the ever-increasing digital world and have responded negatively. However Parks Canada has said that it’s meant to complement visitors’ experience – not to encourage mountain top selfies.
So if you are for, or against nature avec Wi-Fi just remember that there is a lot of it in Canada. Jasper alone is 10,000 square-kilometer. So a lot of wilderness will never be a Wi-Fi connected zone.