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St. John’s aims to close the 'digital divide' and help vulnerable populations with free public WIFI

Free publicly accessible WIFI is expected to be installed in two open space park locations in St John’s, along with handwashing stations, in an effort to help the city’s vulnerable populations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Free publicly accessible WIFI is expected to be installed in two open space park locations in St John’s, along with handwashing stations, in an effort to help the city’s vulnerable populations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The project, and another to establish handwashing stations, result from funding put in place to help deal with the pandemic

The city’s affordable housing working group has plans to establish public WIFI access points and handwashing stations to support vulnerable populations.

The projects are the result of funding received by the city from the COVID-19 Community Response Fund for Vulnerable Populations — a collaboration between the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and the Canadian Medical Association Foundation. The funding was put in place to support vulnerable populations struggling with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This project would help close a digital divide that has emerged in the pandemic,” reads an information note in the affordable housing working group’s agenda for its Thursday meeting, posted on the city’s website.

“Many low-income individuals rely on public internet, but due to COVID-19 closures, libraries, coffee shops and cafes are no longer accessible.”

The group chose two open space park areas owned by the city as locations where the WIFI will be made available, but the exact locations are not stated in the information note, but The Telegram has asked the city for further details.

However, the note says the locations were chosen to be located near non-market housing and outreach service locations. Non-market housing is any type of housing that’s protected from market forces, thus offering affordable rents or ownership, such as nonprofit housing corporations.

Any remaining funds from the WIFI project will be used to set up handwashing stations in the same areas.

The Community Response Fund was made possible by a $10M donation from the Canadian Medical Association Foundation to help municipalities across the country “better reach, protect and assist the most vulnerable among us, including those experiencing homelessness or grappling with mental health and substance use challenges,” according to the FCM website.

Twitter: @juanitamercer_


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