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

More than 300 teens take to the polls at Mount Douglas Secondary for mock federal election

‘This is a pretty engaged generation,’ says Mount Douglas Secondary social studies teacher

Access: A day in the life using a wheelchair in Victoria

Black Press Media teamed up with the Victoria Disability Resource Centre to learn about barriers

Popular food truck to open restaurant on Oak Bay Avenue

Dead Beetz Burgers adds brick-and-mortar restaurant

CRD aims to reduce solid waste going to Hartland Landfill by a third by 2030

District launches public engagement campaign for waste reduction strategies

Lieutenant Governor Janet Austin receives first poppy in Legion-led ceremony

The ceremony is one of the first steps to kick off the 2019 poppy campaign

VIDEO: Explosion, fire sends woman running from Saanich home

Heavy smoke in the area, crews on scene

Zantac, the over-the-counter heartburn drug, pulled in Canada, U.S.

Health Canada also investigates possible carcinogen in some ranitidine drugs

B.C. public safety minister says cannabis edibles not in stores til January

Mike Farnworth says he wants regional issues considered when it comes to licensing

POLL: Do you think the day of the federal election should be a statutory holiday?

Increasing voter turnout has long been a goal of officials across the… Continue reading

Greta Thunberg calls for climate action in Alberta, but doesn’t talk oilsands

Swedish teen was met with some oil and gas industry supporters who came in a truck convoy

Scheer denies spreading ‘misinformation’ in predicting unannounced Liberal taxes

Conservative leader had claimed that a potential NDP-Liberal coalition could lead to a hike in GST

Chilliwack man pleads guilty in crash that killed pregnant woman

Frank Tessman charged under Motor Vehicle Act for accident that killed Kelowna school teacher

Kawhi Leonard, former Toronto Raptor, welcomed back to Vancouver at pre-season game

Fans go wild at pre-season game between L.A. Clippers and Dallas Mavericks at Rogers Arena

Greens and NDP go head to head on West Coast; Scheer takes fight to Bernier

Trudeau turns focus to key ridings outside Toronto after two days in Quebec

Most Read