• Time for WiFi in City Owned Recreation Facilities

    Many of our city owned recreational facilities already have internet connectivity onsite for staff use. But public access to wifi is an increasingly important “quality of experience” factor for users of libraries, recreation centres, gyms, etc, for both regular users and visitors alike, and can also be a safety enhancement.

    The City of London is at a disadvantage in attracting visiting teams to our arenas for area hockey tournaments because other communities already offer public WiFi access (St. Catherines, Hamilton, etc). I’ve been involved in minor hockey with the Bandits Association for 5 years, and has seen entire divisions cancelled because we could not attract enough teams. While there are multiple reasons for this, sadly in part it is that London has a reputation for having poor arena facilities/amenities.

    And it isn’t just arenas. The Canada Games Aquatic Centre is at a disadvantage in bidding for swimming and diving events because it does not offer WiFi. If we want to attract high profile events, it is also a necessity to have connectivity available for visiting media, as well as attracting visiting athletes and teams.

    It is also an issue of concern for local families.

    It is not unusual for 12-13yr olds to work as timekeepers for games at our rinks. These youth often have smart devices that do not have talk and text or data plans enabled for various reasons. The lack of WiFi is a barrier for them to stay in touch with home, to be able to message and say “I’m staying to do an extra game,” or “I’m going to a friend’s house after the game”.  And of course there are the siblings who may spend hours at a rink each week while a brother or sister is on the ice and having WiFi access to do homework would be a great asset for many of those siblings. But in London at many venues they can only do so through a data plan.

    Parents want to be able to send in game/event pictures of their young athletes to family members who may be at work or with a sibling at another location. A coach may want to enter the results immediately after the game/event. In 5+ years, I’ve yet to see a parent stop paying attention to their child’s game because they were in an arena with WiFi, but it does offer an opportunity to do other things that 45min before or after a game waiting while your kid is in the dressing room.

    Adding WiFi to our recreation centres doesn’t take away from the experience, it only adds to it.

    Our libraries offer free WiFi. The new Bostwick Community Centre offers both library and YMCA WiFi connectivity. The Western Fair Sports Complex and Budweiser Gardens both offer this amenity, as does London City Hall itself. Yet older facilities like Argyle Arena, Canada Games Aquatic Centre or Nichols Arena do not.

    That’s why I brought forward a motion, with the support of Councillor Josh Morgan and Elizabeth Peloza. We can easily fix this disparity between services at London’s public venues, and provide a better experience for everyone.

    I brought this to council and on January 29th the following was approved:

    That the public provision of Wi-Fi in recreation facilities, particularly in areas with existing appropriate network connectivity, BE INCLUDED in the draft 2019-2023 Strategic Plan.


    See the London Free Press story at: Committee makes Wi-Fi at all arenas part of strategic plan

    Committee makes Wi-Fi at all arenas part of strategic plan

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