The irony was lost on no one when, last week, Parks Canada indicated a plan to install wireless Internet access hotspots in those prime destinations for people to commune with nature and escape the hustle and bustle. But it soon became clear that, odd or not, some could glean a nugget of wisdom from the idea.
Electronic communications gadgetry has become a cliché among most of the population. For many people, you seldom see them without some mobile device.
Contrast that with the lament we often hear that our young people don’t get the physical activity they should. Well, they come by it honestly. They witness plenty of sedentary habits – involving gazing at a screen of some sort – among the adult set.
Many are also sadly losing touch with the natural world. That’s much of the foundation for having parks, to provide people with that chance to connect.
Parks Canada is eying wireless Internet access hotspots for up to 50 of its parks this year, and would eventually triple that number.
Parks planners claim a method to their madness. They say – and this is an accurate observation – that some people’s work demands that they not be out of touch for any length of time, sad as that sounds. Cellphone service, as might be expected, is often spotty in these wilderness refuges. Parks Canada says the idea of the hotspots is to allow people no matter how busy to enjoy the natural splendour these places provide.
This is perhaps a reality we can’t escape – even though people should never be deprived an atmosphere free of electronic noise.
We expect Parks Canada will be discrete in its plans, establishing these ‘hotspots’ in screened locations – and few and far between, so as not to encourage this activity, and so as not to bother those hoping to be free of such distractions.
Apart from that, it will be up to visitors – adults and children alike – to encourage each other not to indulge unless necessary, so as to enjoy the genuine features of the park.