It used to be that low income people at Carnegie would sit and wait an hour for their turn on a public-access desktop computer to surf the net, until they got hold of laptops and began accessing wifi. Over the past year and a half low income people with lap tops have gotten into the habit of sitting in the big empty room on the third floor of Carnegie in the evenings and surfing the net. Wifi was available there, outside the offices of Carnegie management and the Learning Centre. And it was available in the Carnegie cafeteria on the second floor too, outside the office of CCAP, a project funded by VanCity and run by anti-poverty czar Jean Swanson to lobby for housing for the poor.
Carnegie has put an end to this access. Wifi has been secured so that it cannot be accessed by the poor, only by union members and Carnegie and management.
There is wifi access in the small branch of the Vancouver Public Library on the first floor of Carnegie, but it is painfully slow. Yesterday, six people were huddled around one plug-in at the back of the library, all finding the wifi access too slow.
The rumour is that wifi access was terminated for legal reasons. But the raison d'etre of CCAP and Carnegie is supposed to be to help the poor.
Carnegie has a history of hostility toward the poor eager for internet access. Just look at where they situated the Computer Room. Despite a huge empty space with tables and chairs on the third floor (referred to as the gallery), the computer room which is the service attracting poor people to the third floor in the evenings, is a miniature room tucked in the back beside the washrooms. This was planned, when renovations were occurring years ago. You can literally hear people using the toilet when you're in the computer room. It is such a narrow room that when people walk to the computer they've signed up for, it is impossible to avoid bumping the chairs of other people sitting at computers. This leads to conflict. And the guards get called and people get written up on the "Security" database for causing trouble.
Wifi access for the poor at the UBC Learning Exchange two blocks from Carnegie is, I'm told by two people who use it, also from CCAP. The people who use the Learning Exchange are the same people who use Carnegie. (The Learning Exchange operates weekdays until 5 p.m., unlike Carnegie which is open until 11 p.m. seven days a week.) Doubtful that CCAP will turf the poor off wifi at UBC though; I would bet that CCAP is given money by UBC in exchange for that access. The poverty industry is of course all about money.