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Backpacker Magazine – Online Exclusive

Canadian National Parks Get Wi-Fi

Blame the millennials.

by: Ted Alvarez

image: Wikimedia Commons
image: Wikimedia Commons

Luddite hikers, sharpen your trekking poles. Canada has announced plans to introduce wi-fi service to some of its national parks and landmarks. Blame those damn kids: Parks Canada knows that the next generation of young, urban park enthusiasts remain attached to social media like a third arm, so the agency is hoping to entice them to parks by making sure wild areas don’t interrupt their Bookfacing and Twerpering habits:

Canada is a very big country, and it has become very urban. And for young people from cities, things are different," [Parks Canada official] Francois Duclos said. He noted that some people were also required to stay in constant contact with their workplaces, even while whale-watching or on a break from hiking.
But maybe don’t head out to Banff, Jasper, or Pacific Rim with the intent of tossing every iPad you see into a river just yet. Parks Canada officials plan to keep wi-fi limited to populated areas of the park like visitor centers – both to preserve the truly wild areas and to help visitors access weather forecasts, rent equipment, and check the map just before departing into the wilder sections.
"We are introducing new media, habits, and tools, but are doing it in a way that will leave the wilderness unimpaired," Duclos said. "When you picture a mountain range, blue lakes, whitewater rivers, and spruce forests, this is not where Wi-Fi will be found."
Still, their park service isn’t ignorant of the promotional power of social media, and they’re hoping our growing urge to share our wild experiences will act as another form of outreach.

So where do you fall, dear Backpacker readers? Should we expand wifi availability in America’s national parks for usability and promotional reasons, or ban it to keep our wild spaces wild? Does it even matter? Sound off.

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