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Wi-Fi in the wilderness? Not in B.C., please

As Internet access becomes more widely available at formerly off-grid locations, it's time to question if it's worth it

Ahhh, August. Time to pack up the tent, the cooler, the camp stove, the smartphone and laptop and head out into the wilderness.

Or . maybe not quite so fast. Although wireless Internet is being offered at an increasing number of parks across the country, a recent survey suggests many of us in B.C. are content to keep our parks off the grid. We hope it stays that way. Parks have been around a long time, places where we go to experience "wonder, reverence, the feeling that one is nearer the mystery of things," as Canada's first parks commissioner described them.

For just as long, our parks have faced threats - from logging, development interests and shrinking government coffers. Now add to that list wireless Internet.

With an increasingly urbanized population, it's tempting to see Wi-Fi as just another park amenity - like showers, interpretive stations and barbecue pits.

To think that way would be a mistake.

There are few places left in the modern world that are free from the electronic clutter that occupies the rest of our lives. Parks are among them.

When we turn off the smartphones and computers, we are forced to look up and do something we used to do more of - see the world around us, or talk faceto-face with each other.

Many of our most vivid childhood experiences happen outdoors. It's doubtful that an app on the iPhone will offer that kind of memory.

We're with those who still prefer to heed the call of the wild rather than the call of the Wi-Fi when we head off into nature.