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posted May 11, 2006


Ongoing free wireless internet in Dufferin Grove Park; On May 27 and 28 volunteers will show you how it works.

Saturday and Sunday May 27 and 28, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Organized by Gabe Sawhney of Wireless Toronto. Gabe is part of a volunteer group who think that free wireless internet access connects people better in communities, and is the right way to go. The group in Toronto is just over a year old. Their web site is: We asked Gabe to give an example of what wireless internet is good for, and he sent this story: “One of the most active community wireless groups is in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. They coordinated the installation of a community wireless network in New Orleans within days of Hurricane Katrina. That network was powered using batteries, solar, and other off-grid sources, and provided the only communications infrastructure in some areas for weeks. The group also set up low-power FM transmitters to help inform people about what was going on.”

In the past year Wireless Toronto set up a number of free wireless internet access points in Toronto, around St.Lawrence Market and various coffee shops and one pub. But they wanted to expand to the open air. So they contacted Kijiji - a free, local, community classifieds site - to ask if they would sponsor a year’s free wireless internet at a park, and Kijiji said yes.

Janet Bannister from Kijiji writes: “Kijiji ( has local sites in 21 cities across Canada including one here in Toronto. Kijiji means “village” in Swahili. Like the name, Kijiji enables people to buy and sell things with others in their own city – things like furniture, electronics, computers, clothing, and baby items. Kijiji also has categories for cars, pets, services, housing, jobs and personals. The site is totally free – there’s absolutely no cost to post an ad – and it is extremely easy to use. The site is growing very quickly so take a look and you just may find a great bargain or a spot to turn your unwanted things into cash.”

So Kijiji, because of its interest in local communities, agreed to sponsor a year’s wireless interest in a park. Gabe contacted Dufferin Grove Park. City of Toronto officials said that although it’s a good idea, they were not ready to give Wireless Toronto permission to install wireless internet at the park. But a park neighbour offered his house as the point of entry. So wireless internet will come to Dufferin Grove Park in the same way so much else has come to the park – from the neighbourhood. On May 27 and 28, there will be Wireless Toronto volunteers out in the park, showing people how to access the Internet for free. In addition, people from Kijiji will be hosting a “virtual lawn sale”: bring items you’d like to sell and the Kijiji team will take a digital photo of your item and help you post your item for sale.

Many of the Wireless Toronto members also belong to a brand new group called Citizens for Open Access to Civic Information and Data. Their web site ( says they’re “a group of citizens which believes all levels of government should make civic information and data accessible at no cost in open formats to their citizens. We believe this is necessary to allow citizens to fully participate in the democratic process of an ‘information society.’”

What an interesting bunch these Wireless Toronto people are! The question is: if every tree has a person sitting under it who is on-line with her or his wireless computer, will that mean the park falls silent, with the clicking of the keyboards the only sound besides the wind in the leaves? Or will the on-line people divide their time between their screens and playing frisbee or cooking a picnic? Time will tell...

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