OTTAWA – The quiet solitude and refuge from the connected world that many Canadians yearn for will soon be no more in dozens of Canada’s wilderness zones.
Parks Canada wants to install wireless Internet access hotspots at up to 50 of its parks this year, and it expects to triple that number soon afterward.
The agency is requesting tenders from contractors to install Internet access points at 150 locations over the next three years.
Some may see Canada’s national parks as places where families can escape the hustle and bustle of modern life without being tethered to online video games, social media and email.
But Parks Canada says visitors want to be able to stay in touch with work, friends and family, stay up to date on the news and connect with social media.
And it says modern cellphone coverage is either partial or non-existent at many of its parks and historic sites.
The agency says it expects to offer the service free of charge in some locations, but charge a fee in some cases, such as where the cost is excessive or the location particularly remote.
Many provincial and private parks across Canada currently offer some type of Internet access.
Ontario’s provincial parks authority has been experimenting with wireless Internet access since 2010 while Manitoba started installing Wi-Fi hotspots at its parks last year.
It’s not yet clear which national sites will offer Wi-Fi access.