Saturday, January 2, 2010

Frustration Mounts at Carnegie over Blocking of WiFi Access to Poor

John B. is one of many Carnegie members expressing frustration at the decision by City management at Carnegie to block the poor from accessing WiFi at Carnegie. As reported earlier on this blog, people like John can no longer sit on the third floor at Carnegie and access WiFi with their laptops or netbooks.

The only WiFi access remaining at Carnegie Centre is in the tiny Vancouver Public Library reading room on the first floor. But John points out that the library WiFi is "not designed to carry the load". He says that after 4 or 5 people are signed on, he can't even get on.

Another man who regularly volunteers in the Carnegie computer (desktop) room for 80 cents an hour in food vouchers, says he is frustrated at the blocking of WiFi access at Carnegie for people with laptops. He now has to go to Waves coffee shop with his laptop. He sits in the back and avoids purchasing a coffee.

John hopes to start a petition to take to City Hall to have Carnegie staff share the WiFi signal with the poor.

But John has decided that his first step will be to talk to Carnegie Director Ethel Whitty. He did not know Whitty's name until today when another Carnegie member gave it to him. The member reportedly warned him that he would get nowhere with Ethel Whitty.

A third man, a longtime Carnegie member sitting in Waves using a laptop, was pessimistic about getting Carnegie staff to share WiFi access with the poor. "They don't care. From Whitty on down, they don't care."


Anonymous said...

Internet is a luxery, not a neccesity. It is certainly not a right. It is hard to picture the "poor" toting around laptops grumbling about not having free internet access.

Anonymous said...

I love how you bracket (desktop) like a (desktop) computer is below you lot down at the Carnegie. Sounds like the life of Riley you have going on down there at the Carnegie. All the poor have laptops and, expect, wrong again...DEMAND free internet.

reliable sources said...


"All the poor have laptops and, expect, wrong again...DEMAND free internet."

I believe you made a similar comment on a previous post on the WiFi issue. You have poor reading comprehension skills and consistently miss the point being made. THE POINT IS THIS: Since the City is already paying for a WiFi connection for staff on the Downtown Eastside, why not allow the poor who cluster on the deserted third floor of Carnegie in the evenings to continue to access it.

You make assumptions such as that "all" poor people have laptops or that the poor consider desktops "below" them.

Some low income people purchase cheap laptops -- some save for them; one guy bought one on the street for $20 -- and use them on the third floor at Carnegie because to get a turn on a desktop computer in the computer room at Carnegie often requires an hour wait. And you're kicked off the desktop computer after an hour. [At the UBC Learning Exchange it's worse; you're kicked off the desktops after a half hour.] And whenever Carnegie staff can't find a "volunteer" to sit in the computer room, they lock everybody out.

"Sounds like the life of Riley you have going on down there at the Carnegie."

You're right. We have a parasitic class at Carnegie in the form of Director Ethel Whitty and her staff who come with a million dollar price tag, and who add nothing to the economy and just suck up tax dollars. But I suspect your poor comprehension extends to that issue as well.

Anonymous said...

Correct me if I am wrong, but aren't all branches of government, City Hall and Provincial included trying to implement the information highway by putting all government business online.
It seems to me that if government wants inclusion of all people, rich and poor then all require access. I am poor and own a laptop, so I could get an education and better myself, perhaps someone can explain how to get further ahead if we don't have the tools.
There are many organizations that offer an exchange of man hours in return for a computer, or organizations that sell refurbished laptops. Not all poor people do drugs and can save for such a luxury(?)
I think this is more of an us verses them issue... If it is on city property then it should be inclusive. I wonder how many city paid employee's use this wi fi service at work for personal use, raise your hand if you've never checked your personal e-mail from your desk. Hummmm thought so.
Poor people don't pay taxes is your argument.... but friends, poor folks have families that do pay taxes and vote.... think about it.

Anonymous said...

"Some low income people purchase cheap laptops -- some save for them; one guy bought one on the street for $20"

Aaaahahahahaha, you don't say?
Probably the one stolen out of my beat up car that I forgot when running into the post office a month ago. That's ok though.... I only SAVED for my laptop too you know and bought it in a store, not off Hastings.

reliable sources said...


"Probably the one stolen out of my beat up car that I forgot when running into the post office a month ago. That's ok though...."

I did not say it was ok to steal a laptop. I was countering your perception that poor people had considerable discretionary income to divert towards laptops. Laptops are cheap these days. A guy at Carnegie, who has in the past used the WiFi on the third floor, showed me a laptop he is getting that is advertised at one of the big box stores for $189.

Anonymous said...

You are not "countering" me, I am not the same poster as the one at the top of this comments page.

Can't you see different IP addresses? You do know that it seems more than one person is posting in your comments section.

Anonymous said...

get a life! if all servers went down for a week what would you do/ think!there were too many people in the 3rd flr gallery dragging the server down it was crashing the learning centre. cap collage made the decision. cap collage pays for the connection. get the facts. if you can afford a laptop then you should be able to afford a connetion.

jack meoff!

Anonymous said...

free wifi @ get the code and you can use it anywhere in vancouver.

reliable sources said...


"free wifi @"

Thanks for the tip.

reliable sources said...

jack meoff,

"there were too many people in the 3rd flr gallery dragging the server down it was crashing the learning centre. cap collage made the decision. cap collage pays for the connection."

First, Capilano College is not the only connection at Carnegie, yet members claim they can't get onto WiFi any longer.

Second, the poor congregating outside the Learning Centre on the third floor in the evenings and on weekends are not crashing the system as Learning Center staff and students (the handful of students they attract) have gone home. The Learning Center is closed in the evenings and on weekends.

It is difficult to believe any version of events provided by Cap College, considering their record of overtly repressing freedom of expression amongst Downtown Eastsiders at Carnegie.

Let's not forget that it was the Cap College teacher at the Learning Centre, Lucy Alderson, who marched homeless William Simpson to "security" to inform him that he was banned from the Learning Center because he was believed to be blogging, even though there was no evidence that he blogged and no evidence of anythng libelous on the blog anyway. The blog was simply squealing to taxpayers about the fact that Alderson and Cap were bilking the taxpayer by collecting generous funding and then locking students out of the Learning Center on a semi-regular basis for the flimsiest of reasons.

Cap also colluded with Carnegie Director Ethel Whitty when she lied to elected officials at Carnegie by claiming that Simpson had been barred because he was not a student in the Learning Center-- ignoring the fact that he was formally registered with tutor Chad, who had already identified himself to Whitty.

Cap College should have fired Alderson. Now she is presumably involved (as the coordinator and teacher on site) in the decision to lock down the WiFi. Without people getting onto the internet and reporting via blogs, etc. on what they are seeing at Carnegie, Alderson could slip into her old ways of locking the doors of the Learning Centre again and sitting in their by herself.

An important part of education of the poor is encouraging them to get on the information highway. You can bet Alderson and Capilano College use that angle on their funding applications.

At the very least, Cap should have a conference with the low income people who used the WiFi, and see if a solution can be worked out.

Rachel Davis said...

You say:

"At the very least, Cap should have a conference with the low income people who used the WiFi, and see if a solution can be worked out."

I think this is a great idea!
And I do think that when Cap College is officially informed of a concern, they have a better record of response than Carnegie.

They allowed Bill Simpson back in the Learning Centre soon after he was barred by Lucy Alderson's encouragement of Carnegie Security action against him, wilf Reimer found that out from Cap. directly many months after the fact, it's just that Lucy Alderson failed to let Bill know that he was allowed back in by them.
So, Carnegie, frustrated in their efforts to curtail Bill's rights by the correct actions of Capilano College, enlisted the aid of Judy Rodgers, Ethel's boss at City Hall back then, to get Bill barred from the whole building.
In my opinion, Cap. College's DTES Representative, Lucy Alderson, was more the one to blame here, Cap.Collage righted her and Carnegie's wrong by letting Bill back in, in a timely fashion.

Their failure to realize that there was a concentrated effort at Carnegie to keep Bill out, that Lucy would be so treacherous as to not convey their order to's too bad but to be expected. They probably have little contact with Lucy and Carnegie and it's darker side. To them, she's probably one of those "unsung heros" of the DTES! They should have fired her, probably, but it's understandable that they didn't. She's been keeping their DTES showpiece going a long time.

But that's just the thing that'll work for protestors, Capilano College's desire to appear egalitarian/anti "Ivory Tower" is what made them put that Learning Centre there in the first place, the same desire will make them want to parlay with DTESer's on this topic.

Try it, write to their Newspaper too, if Lucy's boss is unresponsive, and to their disabled student union rep. as well. Some of the people with out this third floor service are on disability, so it certainly applies....

reliable sources said...


Even after Cap College decided to allow Bill Simpson back into the Learning Centre, one of the sticking points remained that Cap's Lucy Alderson would not give Bill the reason for the barring in writing. From the day he was barred he had been asking Alderson and Security Coordinator Skip Everall to give him the reasons in writing. They may have been protecting themselves legally.

But the fact that Cap at least made a decision to lift the barring of Bill is an indication that, as you say, "they have a better record of response than Carnegie."

John B. would probably find it more productive to contact Cap than to meet with Ethel Whitty.

truepeers said...

i can't figure out what the free wireless @ tip/code is talking about. WOuld like to know.

Very sorry to hear your sad news.


Anonymous said...

secret is out. there will be binners hired to pick and clean up the highway along Can. - US. border. All the way to Whistler. Thus money to get one;s own connection to the net.

Anonymous said...

And I thought Vision campaigned on a program of providing free wifi across the city.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

No one is trying to take over the computers, Mr/Mz SHOUTING-All-CAPS. That is not what anyone is talking about. I guess you find it easier to write than read...probably are a person who finds it easier to talk than listen, too, I'm guessing.

Anonymous said...

I LOVE IT when people actually get their knickers in a knot over someone using ALLCAPS!



Rachel Davis said...

Schadenfreude is unsavory, especially when it's so eager it's mistaken. I saw no knicker in knots, ( do you look for knickers a lot?) that poster only referenced the ALLCAPS as a convenient moniker with which to address them. The post actually takes exception to something else entirely.

And it's "woe" is me, not "wo"

But you are right about one thing, it's not the end of the world!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Hmmm, cranky bunch.....