Wait Park — the epicenter of Canby’s Independence Day Celebration, the Cutsforth’s Cruise-In, Slice of Summer and other major events — has always been about connecting.
Sadly, most large events have been canceled this year due to the governor’s coronavirus restrictions, but “connecting” of a different sort is still very much on the table this summer, thanks to some new technology.
That’s right, Canby: Free, high-speed wireless internet is coming to Wait, Legacy and — eventually — Locust Park. Interim City Administrator Amanda Zeiber said installation has started at both Wait and Legacy; they are expected to come online by mid-July.
Locust will take longer due to DirectLink — the city’s partner in the project — needing to bring fiber in from South Township to get the park hooked up. Canby City Councilor Greg Parker said the project has been in the works for several years.
“The idea is that parks are not just places to recreate, but also to meditate,” he said. “That’s one way a city can help with the mental health of its citizens. And we know that parks are safer with more people there. So, how do we get more people, and especially young people, to come to parks? The answer seems simple: provide WiFi.”
Hey — if it worked for Starbucks, it can certainly work for Wait Park and the city of Canby, right?
Parker said it also addresses practical needs and equity concerns with access to technology.
“When it comes to applying for jobs or unemployment benefits or doing your homework, WiFi really is essential,” he said. “Not everyone has it. Parks have always been monuments to be democracy.”
The project has become a particularly pressing need this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with many other hotspots — like the Canby Public Library or coffeeshops — being closed or limited to the public.
The concern led the Canby School District, through a partnership with Clackamas County, to turn its school parking lots into WiFi hotspots a couple of months ago.
“Of course it’s timely because of Covid,” he said of the park project. “People are packed into their houses and this gives them an opportunity to get outside and get fresh air and be socially distant and still enjoy listening to music or books.”
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