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More than 20 outdoor spaces in Essex County get free Wi-Fi

A Wi-Fi access point is seen on top of the Atlas Tube Recreation Centre, giving people in the surrounding soccer fields the ability to log on to the internet for free in Lakeshore, Ont., on May 14, 2024. (Sanjay Maru/CTV News Windsor) A Wi-Fi access point is seen on top of the Atlas Tube Recreation Centre, giving people in the surrounding soccer fields the ability to log on to the internet for free in Lakeshore, Ont., on May 14, 2024. (Sanjay Maru/CTV News Windsor)
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Free Wi-Fi is now available in more than 20 outdoor spaces throughout Essex County.

The installation was made possible through a public-private partnership involving Connecting Windsor-Essex and telecommunication providers WaveDirect and Gosfield North — along with a $422,000 investment from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.

As of Tuesday, public Wi-Fi is now available in 21 parks, beaches and community spaces in Cottam, the Town of Essex, the Municipality of Lakeshore and Leamington.

According to Connecting Windsor-Essex CEO Joanne Soave, the ability for connect to the Wi-Fi opens up new economic opportunities.

"There was the opportunity for small business to earn revenue at different festivals and events that we had throughout the county, but unfortunately, the connection wouldn't allow for that. It was often a cash-only environment," said Soave.

"Now, we can offer cashless solutions to our local small businesses."

The process to install the Wi-Fi started three years ago, officials said Tuesday.

"It's been a lot of coordination with different technical delivery partners, but also with the federal government," said CWE's technical operations director Noah Campbell, adding this is a "first-of-its-kind" collaboration.

"Free public Wi-Fi is a thing. But a private-public partnership with a non-profit and with several municipalities in a region to deliver something like this is a new thing."

According to Campbell, the decision to move ahead with WaveDirect and Gosfield North on this effort was the result of wanting to work with local partners with "extensive" infrastructure capabilities.

"They were paid for their service through the grant funding. Their incentive is that they're able to connect public spaces and be that name that people see on the sign when when they go there," said Campbell.

Despite public Wi-Fi being introduced to local outdoor spaces, Windsor-Tecumseh MP Irek Kusmierczyk, who also serves as parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages, stressed the federal government's involvement as "critical."

"It's the 21st century. Residents look at Wi-Fi as infrastructure — the same as they look at roads and sewers," said Kusmierczyk.

Below is the full list of locations where free Wi-Fi can now be accessed:

1. Atlas Tube Centre (Belle River, 447 Renaud Line Road)

2. Belle River Marina (Belle River, 600 Lake Drive)

3. Co-An Public Park (McGregor, 11071 Concession Road 11)

4. Colchester Beach Harbour (Harrow, 100 Jackson Street)

5. Comber Community Park (Comber, 6211 McAllister Street)

6. Duck Creek Park (Belle River, 130 Duck Creek Boulevard)

7. Essex Sports Complex field area (Essex, 60 Fairview Avenue West)

8. Harrow Arena (Harrow, 243 McAffee Street)

9. Lakeview Park splash pad (Belle River, 535 Lakeview Drive)

10. Lakeview Trail (Belle River, 492 Lakeview Drive)

11. Leamington Kinsmen baseball diamonds (Leamington, Seacliff Drive East)

12. Leamington Soccer fields (Leamington, 165 Mersea Road 12)

13. Lions Club Park (Belle River, 245 Ouellette Street)

14. Mersea Park (Leamington, 651 Point Pelee Drive)

15. Millen Park (Woodslee, 1925 South Middle Road)

16. Optimist Park (Belle River, 775 Notre Dame Street)

17. Reg Chevalier Park (Woodslee, 1762 Oriole Park Drive)

18. Ridgeview Park (Cottam, 124 Fox Street)

19. Rotary Park (Cottam, 175 County Road 34 West)

20. Town hall community area (Belle River, 419 Notre Dame Drive)

21. William Street Park (Cottam, 39 William Street)

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