There's still plenty of time to enjoy a relaxing camping vacation this summer — and a with some provincial parks across Canada offering wireless internet, being out in the wild doesn't have to mean leaving everything behind.
Ontario Parks has launched a pilot program that introduced wireless internet in Pinery Provincial Park. The hotspot at the park's convenience store will stay active until November.
According to John Salo, southwest zone manager for Ontario Parks, "We're an accommodation — bottom line. Yes, we protect significant [environmental] areas, but we're an accommodation, and when people go to motels and hotels, they expect to have wireless internet."
"If there's a positive response, we'll sit back and determine if it's worth it to continue," he said.
Pinery is the only provincial park in Ontario with Wi-Fi, but other parks across the country have also experimented with the service. Nova Scotia expanded wireless access to its provincial parks last year and in Saskatchewan, visitors have access to a 4G network that is available in most parks.
In B.C., Meziadin Lake Provincial Park offers Wi-Fi for $5 per day. The park facility operator, Robert Seaton, decided to provide Wi-Fi for its visitors four years ago because there was no cellphone coverage in the remote northern area where the closest phone is 60 km away. The park has become a popular place for American and European visitors who often choose to spend an extra night at Meziadin so they can keep in touch with family back home.
"Most people just use [the internet] to update their friends and family on where they are … and send photos," Seaton said.
Even if the demand for Wi-Fi increases in provincial parks, however, many may be too remote to provide access. Currently only two of Alberta's 500 parks have Wi-Fi.
"There are some locations where we cannot offer [wireless internet]," says Salo of parks in Ontario.