Sunday, December 17, 2017
News Roundup

Canada report: Parks to get Internet hotspots starting this year

The high-tech onslaught is about to invade Canada's wilderness areas — and many Canadians don't like the idea.

Parks Canada is planning to have wireless Internet access hotspots installed at up to 50 parks this year and expects to triple that number in the next two years.

The federal government agency is asking for bids from contractors to install Internet access points at a total of 150 locations.

This development has been disturbing to many nature lovers and those who seek "quiet solitude and refuge from a connected world" when away.

With cellphone coverage spotty or not available in many wilderness areas, the agency said visitors want wireless access to stay connected with work, friends, family, social media and the news.

It also found that many provincial and private parks are now offering some type of Internet access.

Ontario Parks has tested Internet options while Manitoba began installing Wi-Fi hotspots at its parks last year.

Meanwhile, the Vancouver Park Board has approved developing a plan for free public Wi-Fi in parks and beaches.

Toronto mayor thought to be at U.S. rehab

It is believed that Toronto's troubled mayor Rob Ford has entered an undisclosed rehabilitation facility in the United States after taking a leave of absence to get help for substance abuse.

Ford took the leave seeking "immediate help" after further videos and recordings showed him allegedly smoking crack cocaine and spewing profanities and lewd comments while drunk last weekend.

He left Toronto by private plane for Chicago where his family business DECO Labels and Tags has its U.S. headquarters and he has a home.

"I have a problem with alcohol and the choices I have made while under the influence and I am now 100 percent committed to getting myself right," Ford said.

News in brief

• The scandal-plagued Ontario Liberals have set a June 12 election date after New Democratic Party leader Andrea Horwath said she can no longer support the minority government. Horwath said her party cannot endorse the latest budget and called it a "mad dash to escape the scandals by promising the moon and the stars." The Conservatives and NDP's rejection of the budget would have toppled the minority government, requiring an election.

• A survey has found that fewer than half of Canadians are willing to move for employment opportunities. The survey conducted by Ipsos Reid asked 2,000 people whether they'd move within their provinces or to other parts of the country for a job. Only 10 percent indicated an eagerness to move, while a third said they could be persuaded for the right job and the right incentives.

Facts and figures

Canada's dollar has gained to 91.12 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.0974 in Canadian funds, before bank exchange fees.

The Bank of Canada's key interest rate is steady at 1 percent while the prime-lending rate is 3 percent.

Stock markets are higher with the Toronto exchange index at 14,745 points and the TSX Venture index at 1,014 points.

The average price of a liter of gasoline in Canada is lower at $1.3729 (Canadian).

Lotto 6-49: (April 30) 3, 9, 25, 32, 35 and 45; bonus 23. (April 26) 3, 11, 12, 19, 21 and 29; bonus 9. Lotto Max: (April 25) 3, 9, 24, 25, 28, 36 and 40; bonus 48.

Regional briefs

• Alberta's interim premier Dave Hancock has apologized to his Conservative party for the mistakes of former premier Alison Redford. "We took Albertans and your support for granted and acted in a way that's contrary to our values," he told 1,300 party members. Redford, who remains a Member of the Legislature, resigned as premier during a caucus revolt over lavish spending and improper behavior.

• Newfoundland fisheries officials are seeking federal government help in removing the rotting remains of two blue whales near Trout River and Rocky Harbor. The beached whales are among nine that died when trapped in thick sea ice. The whales weigh about 60 tons and pose potential health hazards and a powerful stench.

Jim Fox can be reached at [email protected]

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