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

Plans to clear-cut old-growth near Port Renfrew causes an environmental outcry

Groups call logging a provincial government ‘blind spot’

Sentencing delayed for man who attacked VicPD dog

Uno later recovered from his injury and returned to work

Saanich councillor continues to call for permanent funding for Greater Victoria sexual assault centre

Coun. Ned Taylor says funding announced last week will help, but need for permanent support remains

Second cannabis dispensary earns Langford approval

The Original Farm Langford Ltd. plans to open in Belmont Market

Four Grizzlies players named for NHL draft

Newhook slated to be pick number 13 overall

4 victims killed in Penticton shooting spree remembered at vigil

John Brittain, 68, is charged with three counts of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder

POLL: How often does your family use BC Ferries?

Navigating the lineups for BC Ferries is a way of life for… Continue reading

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for the week of April 16

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Undercover cops don’t need warrant to email, text suspected child lurers: court

High court decision came Thursday in the case of Sean Patrick Mills of Newfoundland

Whitecaps fans stage walkout over club’s response to allegations against B.C. coach

Soccer coach has been suspended by Coastal FC since February

Three climbers presumed dead after avalanche in Banff National Park

One of the men is American and the other two are from Europe, according to officials

TSB makes two safety advisories in probe of B.C. train derailment that killed three

The CP Rail train went off the tracks near the B.C.-Alberta border in February

VIDEO: Trump tried to seize control of Mueller probe, report says

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s report revealed to a waiting nation Thursday

Contaminated soil to stay at contentious Shawnigan Lake site?

Reaction: “The community would lose their minds if this plan proceeds.”

Most Read