Greater Victoria libraries’ Internet access safe, for now

Federal access funding cut means adjustments in other areas

Despite losing a $26,000 grant for Internet service, the Greater Victoria Public Library will not be cutting any of the coveted computer stations at its branches.

“Because we are a larger system, it does impact our operating budget, but we are in the fortunate position that we can absorb the reduction,” said Maureen Sawa, CEO of GVPL. “But (for) many of our colleagues on the Island, in some of the smaller library systems on Vancouver Island, this is really going to be a blow.”

Sawa was speaking out in solidarity with these smaller libraries, which stand to lose their only public computer stations.

On March 31, the federal government cut its Community Access Program, which has helped to fund computers and Internet technologies in libraries since 1995.

According to Industry Canada, the program met its objective to make Internet accessible. It launched in an age when only 10 per cent of Canadian households had Internet service at home. As of 2010, that proportion had grown to 79 per cent.

But from the perspective of GVPL’s manager of public service, the need for computers at the library has not changed over time.

“We see no sign of that diminishing, in spite of statistics that say that a huge number of Canadians have access to Internet in their own home,” said Patricia Eaton.

The computer stations are well used and often have a queue, she said.

A wide cross-section of people use the stations, including those of limited means, students and seniors without the knowledge to set up a home computer.

The issue of the cut came to the attention of Victoria city council this week.

“All Canadians, regardless of economic status or location, should have the ability to access information and services through broadband connection to the Internet,” Coun. Pam Madoff wrote in a report. She recommended that city council write to local Members of Parliament requesting their support in reinstating the federal program. Council is due to vote on the matter today (June 7).

GVPL’s management are now looking at ways to absorb the $26,000 cut without affecting service.

“A lot of the funding that we received helped to do the upgrades to our computers,” Sawa said. “It will mean that in some of our locations, that won’t happen as quickly.”

Whether the library will ask area municipalities for an increase in its annual budget request to compensate for the cut is yet to be seen.

“We’re going to adjust some other areas,” Sawa said.

For more information, visit www.saveCAP.ca

rholmen@vicnews.com

Did you know?

• The Central Saanich branch is the smallest of the Greater Victoria Public Libraries and has five public computers. Each month, an average of 650 people log on for a session at one of these computers.

• The Central branch downtown is the largest in the system. It has 60 public computers, which are used 10,000 a month.

Just Posted

Unsealed record suggests U.S. man convicted in murder of Saanich couple left DNA on zip tie in 1987

William Talbott is set to be sentenced Wednesday in the murders of Jay Cook and Tanya Van Cuylenborg

Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital home to new cancer diagnostic suite

The Gordon Heys Family PET/CT Suite was unveiled at the BC Cancer Centre-Victoria

Hatley Gardens at Royal Roads, now free to public

1,500 plants recorded in garden, including 1,000-year-old Douglas Fir

Studies for E&N corridor still on track after BC Transit investments

Recent investment in bus fleet expansion doesn’t slow studies into alternative transportation routes

Two brands of ice cream sandwiches recalled due to presence of metal

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued a recall on Iceberg and Originale Augustin brands

Surrey court clerk files human rights complaint related to concussion

Deborah A. Ryane claims her employer discriminated against her on basis of mental disability

Food fight: Liberals, Tories trade shots as pre-campaign battles intensify

Health Canada released an overhauled document that did away with traditional food groups and portion sizes

Okanagan Air Cadet challenges gender-exclusive haircut policy

Haircut regulation inspires challenge around gender identity

VIDEO: Bystander training gains traction as tool to prevent sexual harassment, violence

Julia Gartley was sexually assaulted after an event, and no one stepped in to help

Sexual assaults, extortion on the rise even as crime rates stay low: Stats Canada

Rates of police-reported sexual assault rose for the fourth year in a row

Vancouver Island teens missing after vehicle found ablaze near Dease Lake, BC

RCMP say a body discovered nearby not one of the missing teens

A year later, ceremony commemorates victims of the Danforth shooting

It’s the one-year anniversary of when a man opened fire along the bustling street before shooting and killing himself

Most Read