CAP Success Stories - October

Prepared by Jo Mrozewski, Industry Canada Vancouver

Bringing Seniors Online with the Wider Community

Osoyoos - Osoyoos Chamber of Commerce

Through the vision of Chamber of Commerce manager Bonnie Dancey, this agricultural and tourist town has succeeded in bringing CAP Internet access to as wide a cross-section of the population as possible. The Seniors' Computer Club, which started with a CAP terminal and keen volunteers, helps people from the large seniors community, some into their 80s, get on line at home and at the Seniors' Centre. At the InfoCentre, the many tourists to the area use the CAP site's travel bookmarks and email. The terminals also connect the hundreds of young seasonal fruit pickers to their homes in other parts of Canada. Local business people, fledgling entrepreneurs, and people needing personal access make heavy use of the CAP terminals at the Economic Development office and the library. At the Sidewalk School/Learning Centre, teens and adults who don't fit into mainstream schools use the CAP terminal and other computer facilities for learning and job skills development.

Creating Buffers to Job Loss

Tumbler Ridge - Tumbler Ridge Public Library

Through CAP, the local librarians brought the Internet to this isolated mining town in northeastern B.C. With it, they changed daily life in the town. It's now estimated that half the residents are on the net, most of them trained at library sessions -- evenings for teens and adults, days for school classes. Now the demand for introductory sessions is replaced by demand for more specialized courses, such as web-based geneology and web design. CAP terminals are used for e-mail and recreation, academic research, homework, and listservs (set up for people with medical problems.) The biggest use came in early 1998, when both local coal mines announced massive layoffs. For months job searchers were lining up at the terminals throughout library hours. On-line connections helped people find work as far away as Australia. Some believe that the effects of layoffs were less devastating than feared because people had access to ARS, a local on-line counselling service.

Building Telecommunications Infrastructure

Tatlayoko Lake - Tatlayoko Think Tank (TTT)

Before the Chilcotin region could get internet service, it needed modern phone service. Activist-turned-ISP, John Kerr, says the CAP grant to the Tatlayoko Think Tank was the initial leverage for getting major telecommunication improvements: before the grant, party lines and radio phones were the norm for the few thousand people along the 500 kilometres of Hwy 20; it's illegal to use party lines for fax or Internet; small calling districts make almost every call long distance; satellite service is not affordable. In 1995 TTT got a CAP grant to set up community computer training, and telecommunications and Internet access for residents in the three phone exchanges in the West Chilcotin. School District #27 provided technical advice and sites in two schools, the Alexis Creek Indian Band provided a third site at the Tsi Del Del School. BC TEL provides data lines, and the B.C. government provided access to its backbone network through the Provincial Learning Network. BC Hydro has provided backup power, an essential given the area's extreme weather and the huge distances that separate the three server sites. TTT provides a server, community access equipment and administers the project. Among TTT's most active users are businesses aimed at tourists and film makers. The operators rely on the Web and email to get clients, though some have to drive to the nearest CAP site to pick up email. As a participant in CRTC High-Cost Service Area hearings, Kerr continues to lobby for upgrades.

CAP Success Stories - November

Prepared by Jo Mrozewski, Industry Canada Vancouver

Taking to Heart the Mission of Affordable Access

Vanderhoof - Nechako Access Network Organization (NANO)

With a goal of making the Internet truly accessible to everyone, NANO has developed a loaner program for people who don't have computers. For the cost of a year's Internet access, $45, NANO offers members a donated, refurbished computer. Board member Dave Irwin, who started the program, says the cost of getting onto the net is a problem for many people. He says some members pay their annual fee entirely with rolls of coins. So far, he's had 17 machines go out to 20 new members, and he's collecting new donations of equipment. This is just the latest pioneering effort from NANO, the first CAP site in British Columbia. Since 1995, it has brought the Internet to where people live. Serving a wide-spread area, NANO's main outlet is what it calls a "mobile lab," a laptop system that can travel around or be set up in the local shopping mall. NANO was also the first ISP in the area, and had to lobby hard to get the line and switching upgrades to make dial-up access possible for much of the area.

Boats and Planes and Internet

Ahousat - Maaqtusiis Elementary/Secondary School

For years there were only two ways out of Ahousat ... float plane or a 40-minute boat ride to Tofino. Now there's also the information highway. Ahousat's mainly First Nation population has been connected to the world since April 1998. Max Bishop, CAP co-ordinator, and math/science teacher at the school, says, "with fishing and logging going down, all that's left is brain work. It's going to take a while before we can exploit it, but connecting to the Web is a start." In just a few months students mastered Powerpoint and HyperStudio, and designed web pages. The biggest hits, however, to Bishop's surprise and initial shock, are chat rooms. Yet, he's seen them build kids' self-esteem. When they connect with a teen on the other side of the world, it helps them see past isolation and tragedy they may face, and recognize their self-worth. Adult response has been slower. Bishop says even coffee and doughnuts haven't attracted the elderly elders yet, but some younger grandparents are using the Net. For example, one man is learning marketing and using the Web to prepare a plan for what promises to be a unique ecotourism venture. Bishop is hopeful that word will spread, and that soon more local ventures and community groups will sign on.

Easing Internet Anxiety

Pitt Meadows/Maple Ridge/Port Coquitlam - Fraser Valley Regional Library System

Mary Murphy has played to packed houses since Summer 1998, and her shows have all been sellouts. Her job, welcoming people to the web, was created by pooling part of the CAP grants of three Fraser Valley libraries. She's says such sessions and public access are very important, even in well-served suburban areas, because many people still are wary of the Internet, and can't afford computers or training. She's found that what best eases people's anxiety is a guided Internet tour, rather than a hands-on session. She uses slides and live Internet connection, both projected onto a large screen. As a professional librarian and trainer, she has a strong sense of what people want to know, and this contributes to the popularity of the sessions. She has separate sessions for seniors, when libraries are closed, and for business people. Many people at her business sessions already have websites, but want more information on e-commerce. She emphasizes IC's Strategis site and news stories, but also helps people network with e-commerce users. To date she's introduced more than 550 people to the Net, with another 580 trained at the three CAP sites in one-on-one sessions through youth@bc. Murphy's next phase is to help volunteer groups and agencies in the three communities she serves develop a Web presence.

CAP Success Stories - December

Prepared by Jo Mrozewski, Industry Canada Vancouver

Celebrating the Power of Partnerships

Gold Country Community Society - Ashcroft, Lytton, Cache Creek, Clinton, Logan Lake, Spences Bridge, Gold Bridge, Seaton Portage/Shalalth

A group of small B.C. communities has won national recognition as the most sustainable CAP initiative in Canada. The Gold Country project is a model of how partnerships can create a whole that's greater than the sum of its parts. The Society has pooled CAP grants from eight different sites and contributions from partners such as BCTel, School District 74, University College of the Cariboo, the Thompson-Nicola Regional District and local ISP, West Kootenay PowerLink. The result is major investment in servers and infrastructure that created a high-speed network for the previously under-served area. The eight communities have 14 CAP centres among them, from a video shop in Cache Creek to the YM/YWCA in Logan Lake. In three communities they are in partnership with local First Nations. The eight sites share promotions and marketing projects such as iron-on products and classified ads, and internet training for staff and general users. Gold Country administrator Ron Hood says the main impetus for the CAP sites was to promote economic development in an area that's losing its traditional base. Hood says one of the biggest benefits is the new infrastructure, which has helped many local businesses go on-line, and fosters "citizen improvement." He says the other major benefit is to local young people. There's been a marked increase in the number of high school students enrolling in post-secondary education, including all of the roughly two dozen who've worked at the CAP sites. Hood is heartened and impressed by the web sites and community projects these people have taken on. The Society is planning to add two new CAP sites to the current eight.

Electronic Pioneers Put the North on the Net

PRIS - Dawson Creek/South Peace River Region

The Peace Region Internet Society demonstrates how effective community action can be. PRIS started in the early '90s, when a group of Dawson Creek residents decided the electronic world was about to pass by the sparsely populated areas like theirs unless local people did something about it. They formed PRIS as a not-for-profit society providing low-cost Internet service and free access for groups such as women's shelters. Its main mandate was, and still is, support for economic development and e-commerce. PRIS began operations with a CAP grant in 1994. It's become completely self-supporting, even though commercial ISPs now operate locally. PRIS serves a huge geographic area in northeastern B.C. and offers support for similar projects in other areas. Administrator Arvo Koppel says the farming community has seen major benefits as a result. Farmers are increasingly reliant on global connections for things such as market information and availability of supplies. PRIS has given them instant access to these services and networks. PRIS has also helped set up local electronic entrepreneurs. The most established, G.F. Currie Consulting, has major projects all over the world, and employs contractors from Scandinavia to Australia. Founder Gord Currie says his clients have no idea where he's located, but he says there's no way he could have done what he did without PRIS.

One-stop Public Service for First Nations and Non-First Nations

Westbank First Nation - Westbank

The CAP project on the Westbank Reserve is designed to meet the needs of Reserve residents and those of the adjacent non-native community of Westbank. The CAP site is near the centre of the Reserve, but it markets its services well beyond its borders. The operation is a well-run example of a public access Internet site that systematically meets a number of local needs. Since bringing the Information Highway to the Reserve in 1997, the site has offered extensive public training, moving from an initial focus on introducing the Web and Windows-based applications to more sophisticated courses. Local residents use CAP access for recreation, schoolwork, and business planning. CAP manager Darrin Fiddler is encouraged by the number of people who now use the Internet with comfort. He says most are young, but gradually the number of older users is increasing. Fiddler is well-versed in a wide-variety of computer applications and systems. While most of his time is spent on bringing as many people as possible to the Web, his efforts reach beyond that. He's helping the First Nation band staff use the Internet for administration and planning. He's also reaching out to the non-native operations located on or near the reserve. The site has offered a number of Y2K seminars, and encouraged companies to develop a web presence.

CAP Success Stories - January 1999

Prepared by Jo Mrozewski, Industry Canada Vancouver

Strengthening Francophone Community

Campbell River - L'Association Francophone de Campbell River (AFCR)

The first Francophone CAP site in B.C. opened in 1998, thanks to CAP funding and the hard work of members of l'Association francophone de Campbell River. The opening of the site coincides with the twentieth anniversary of the AFCR. Over that time the association has created an active community of approximately 500 people out of individuals isolated in the population at large. The new site helps solidify and extend the identity of that community, and increases local awareness of francophone culture. The AFCR now has an extensive website that publicizes AFCR activities and resources, many of them for francophone and francophile school children. The site also has comprehensive links to francophone resources across Canada and around the world, resources that local residents have difficulty accessing otherwise, yet which are essential to maintaining their cultural identity. Through CAP, the AFCR is also developing local on-line resources such as a French community job network, a French tourism network, and services for francophone entrepreneurs. The CAP site is in the AFCR offices, but is not exclusively for the use of french-speakers. Everyone in the area is welcome to use the site facilities, participate in training using the francophone resources, and learn more about francophone language and culture with the help of the Internet. or after May 1

High-Volume, Hands-on Training for Special Groups

Creston - Kootenay Employment Services Society (KES)

Seniors are demolishing the stereotype that they're not interested in computers, and the trainers at Kootenay Employment Services are helping them do it. When community members were surveyed by CAP Youth workers, one of the greatest demands for training came from seniors. Course registration was offered during Seniors' Days at the local supermarket and all available courses were filled quickly. KES manager Donna Carlyle says most seniors are keen to use e-mail to keep in touch with family and friends, but many also want to research their interests on the Web and develop computer job skills. Carlyle says Internet and computer skills help seniors find part-time work to supplement their pensions. The success of the sessions, like others offered by the agency comes from trainers' abilities to modify workshops to fit the needs and abilities of learners. The KES CAP site has made community training its main priority. It has five staff offering a range of sessions every weekday morning. The full sessions and high volume of people through the door are proof of the demand. The agency was started to help people with developmental disabilities find jobs, and has grown now to serve all residents of the Creston Valley. KES helps them develop the computer skills they need for work, and gives them "Career Explorer" job research sessions. The "Career Explorer" courses are offered also to young people finishing school. Elsewhere in the community, KES has offered training to more than 40 non-profit organizations, so they can improve their effectiveness in meeting community needs. KES also partners with the local college to provide courses ranging from Internet training to desktop publishing. During afternoons and one evening a week, the KES computer lab is open for unlimited drop-in use. It's always busy.

Coffee, Tea ... or E-mail?

Whistler - Whistler Community Schools, Public Library, Chamber of Commerce, Resort Municipality of Whistler

The CAP Internet Café, "Why Not Wednesday" coffee clubs and business lunches were the hot tickets in Whistler in the summer of 1998. Their success in mixing social activities and Internet training won Whistler recognition as one of the country's best sustained CAP projects. The community has four CAP sites, each serving different functions; the one at Whistler Secondary Community School does community training. Its weekly "coffee club" had topics such as E-mail Mama, Home and Garden, and Healthy Living. The "business lunch" featured Internet Business Capabilities, Legal Issues, and the Future of Internet Business. The sessions were free, and always full, even through the sunniest summer on record. The Internet Café continues. School co-ordinator Sheila Mozes says it's always packed, and people show up even when it's closed. The cafe is looking at ways to extend its hours. The other local sites are always booked to capacity as well. High school students have played a big part in CAP success. With one professional trainer they delivered the summer program, trained trainers at other sites, and now operate the Café on their own. By charging a small fee, they've made it self-financing. This is one of the most affluent communities in Canada, but its huge population of seasonal workers, its permanent residents, small businesses and hundreds of thousands of tourists use the CAP sites for essential electronic connection to friends, family, travel information and business development.

CAP Success Stories - February

Prepared by Jo Mrozewski, Industry Canada Vancouver

Tidal Ecosystems and Quilting Patterns - Electronic Research as a Community Resource

Bamfield Community School - Bamfield

A lot of research goes on in Bamfield and the CAP site, in the local community school, has become an essential tool to support it. School co-ordinator Linda Myres says the community of about 300 people is home to writers, artists and scientists drawn to Bamfield by its relatively remote, scenic location on the west coast of Vancouver Island. It's also home to the Bamfield Marine Station, and the School for Field Studies, both of which are field research facilities for various universities. They had Internet service before the CAP site was established, but they've outgrown their computer labs. As a result students and scientists are regulars at the CAP site. Other CAP regulars include local freelance writers, forestry workers, and the school itself. Myres says the community faces many social and health issues, and before the CAP site, local resources needed to deal with them were almost non-existent. As in many resource-dependent communities, job loss and economic diversification are big issues in Bamfield. That means the CAP site is a tool for job and training searches. It's also a big part of tourism infrastructure and will likely play a role in the local economic development plan to be released soon. Still, it's not all hard work at the site. Myres says she sees people now who swore they'd never touch a computer. One woman who resisted initially was drawn in when she saw how many quilting patterns were available on the Internet. A local teen, hired through CAP Youth, has helped promote Internet use, distributed Y2K information, trained people, and created a unique and engaging community Web site.

Centennial Celebrations with Electronic Connections

Revelstoke - Revelstoke Chamber of Commerce

The railroad and resource industries put Revelstoke on the map a hundred years ago. These days tourism and the Internet are part of the mix. In 1999 attention in Revelstoke turns to the city's centennial celebrations. The Chamber of Commerce has created a centennial website to promote them. The site includes a chat room where former residents can plan for the summer Homecoming, an on-line historical tour to entice visitors, and The On-Line Souvenir Shop where guidebooks, CDs and t-shirts are among the e-commerce offerings. The city website does a good job promoting the area's mountain landscape as a winter and summer tourist destination. The centennial and city websites are only part of the Chamber's Internet initiatives in Revelstoke. Through the CAP program, it helped set up three CAP sites in 1996. Chamber manager Adelheid Bender estimates that users at the Skills Centre, Career Centre and the Chamber itself are divided almost equally among tourism, transportation and forestry sectors. Downturns in forestry and mining over the past few years have brought people in to look for work, training opportunities, and information on developing a business idea. Tourists have come to consider Internet access an essential service, and at times have to line up to wait their turn at the CAP sites. CAP use has grown steadily since the sites opened, even though they've been promoted largely through word-of-mouth. Given the economic straits facing many of the area's businesses, the CAP sites aren't expecting many contributions from local employers. Instead CAP sponsors are conserving the resources they have to ensure they can extend the service that more and more people come to rely on.

Electronic On-ramps for People with Disabilities

Independent Living Resources Centre - Vernon

The Vernon CAP site may be the only one in Canada designed primarily for people with disabilities. When the local Community Futures office decided to apply for CAP funding, officials felt the area was well-served with public Internet access. However, they felt people with disabilities couldn't take advantage of it. The resulting CAP site is in the local Independent Living Resources Centre. It has many devices and aids to make browsing the Internet possible for people with various disabilities: special voice command software allows people to navigate the Internet and use other software programs using only verbal commands; speech synthesizer equipment conveys the contents of Web pages or documents using verbal descriptions; a very large tracker ball helps people with motor disabilities; keyboards and monitors are all adjustable; text can be enhanced; staff at the site are always available to help people who need further support. The executive director of the Centre, Brenda Bryan, says if she had the time to collect testimonials, people would be amazed at the impact the site has had on the several hundred regular users. It allows people with disabilities and barriers to investigate personal interests, use e-mail and hone job skills. Some become so skilled that they volunteer to help others at the site, and from there some go on to paid employment. Bryan says despite the heavy use at the centre, the CAP site only scratches the surface of what can be done to improve public Internet access. The site is open to people without disabilities as well; it's particularly well used by regulars and seniors. The CAP site has become a model for at least one other centre. The Kamloops Rotary Club has helped equip a similar facility in the nearby Independent Living Resource Centre Outreach office in Kamloops.

CAP Success Stories - March

Prepared by Jo Mrozewski, Industry Canada Vancouver

Extending Community Health Resources

Langley, Walnut Grove, Aldergrove Branches - Fraser Valley Regional Library

Health care workers in the Langley area are learning to plug into Internet health resources with the help of CAP-funded workshops from local libraries. Trainer Larry McCallum believes it's a way of using CAP resources to benefit as many people as possible; health workers who are able to use the Internet professionally have more information to offer their clients, and help extend health resources.

McCallum originally targeted public health and continuing care nurses, who normally don't have easy access to medical libraries, but soon the classes were offered to hospital staff as well. The workshop waiting list includes nurses, physicians, hospital administrators, and professionals such as physiotherapists. The sessions are free to anyone able to make time to attend. McCallum offers two levels of training, depending on the experience level of users. The less experienced learn about browsers and Internet searching, while others take a more advanced look at medical resources. McCallum's comprehensive list of sites includes Medline, from the National Library of Medicine, Doctor's Guide to the Internet, and Medscape, all available to regular Internet users. He also introduces people to Ebscohost, an on-line database available at all branches of the Fraser Valley Regional Library. It provides the full text of magazine articles from around the world, including medical journals such as Lancet. McCallum's position is funded by pooling CAP resources from three CAP sites, the Langley, Aldergrove and Walnut Grove branches of the Fraser Valley Regional Library. His mandate is to offer community Internet training. In addition to workshops for health care workers, McCallum also offers Internet courses for beginners, intermediate users, web site development, job seeker programs, and Internet for business use.

Building Networks for Community Development

North Island Wide-Area Network Society (NIWAN) - Mount Waddington communities (Port Hardy, Port McNeill, Port Alice, Alert Bay, Sointula)

When it comes to meeting the challenges dictated by geography, Northern Vancouver Island has a history of showing creativity. One example is the North Island Wide Area Network initiative. NIWAN is wireless communications infrastructure that draws together the communities of the area and links them to the global community. Residents see the Internet as a route to community development, but consider on-line connections among themselves equally essential to economic survival. With funding from CAP and other sources, NIWAN has connected five communities through their CAP sites. The goal is put all communities and surrounding islands on the system. The NIWAN initiative was spearheaded by the Community Futures Development Corporation of Mount Waddington, and involves five local municipal governments. The non-profit NIWAN Society administers the CAP sites and co-ordinates the project. Participating partners include CFDC-Mt. Waddington, Community Skills Centre for the North Island and Region, School District 85 and North Island College. All offer facilities and computer equipment to the public through CAP. These, coupled with co-ordinated services for education, training and business, create a rich mix of local resources and expertise to serve the region. NIWAN chair David Hudson says the project's most immediate goal is to provide Internet access to individuals and small businesses. Eventually, project partners will use the network to deliver video-conferenced educational services to students in an extensive range of academic, upgrading, skills training and self-employment programs. Hudson says video-conferencing will help meet the demand for services in an area where the distance between communities and their small populations make it difficult to generate large enrolments or to offer students face-to-face tutorials and academic and financial aid services. The completed network will be made available to community groups, governments, and local industries, who will be invited to participate on a fee-for-service basis. Hudson says the high initial cost of the system will more than pay for itself with the short- and long-term benefits that will accrue to communities and residents.

Community Enthusiasm for Public Internet Access

CAP Society - Williams Lake

There's so much enthusiasm for the CAP project in Williams Lake that even commercial ISPs are lined up in support. Of the five CAP sites in the city, two are in the lobbies of competing ISPs, Stardate and Computer Access Centre. They provide free lines at their respective sites as well as at the Canadian Mental Health Association's Family and Community Services office. The two remaining sites are at the Community Skills Centre and the public library. CAP enthusiasm extends to volunteers. When word came in early 1998 that CAP was coming to town, 30 people signed up to help run it, ranging in age from young teens to retired people signed up to help run it. The volunteers were particularly active in the summer of 1998, when a CAP Youth worker had them help meet the demand for different Internet and Y2K training sessions. All the people who make CAP work, including CAP co-ordinator Nicky Dunlop, do it outside their day jobs. Yet, the people most enthusiastic about CAP are the users. Dunlop says people really believe in the project, and see the effect it's had on community. While private Internet use is increasing in Williams Lake, usage at CAP sites is still growing. Computers are almost always booked, and often have lineups. Williams Lake is a major centre in the Cariboo, B.C.'s ranch country. The population of about 13,000 is divided among the service sector, ranching, and resource industries. While not as badly hit by economic difficulties as some parts of the province, Dunlop says there are still a large number of people with socioeconomic disadvantages, who likely never will own a computer. Many use CAP resources at the Family and Community Services office. Many also are referred to other sites to research job hunting skills and employment ideas. Also big on the list of CAP use is personal research, and e-mail. Seasonal workers and highway travellers are also frequent CAP users.