City "freeing the net" for Toronto Community Housing residents

City "freeing the net" for Toronto Community Housing residents

September 04, 2010

Residents of a Toronto Community Housing building will have easier access to the Internet under a year-long pilot project that is a collaboration between the City of Toronto and Toronto Community Housing.

"This pilot demonstrates an excellent partnership between the City, Toronto Community Housing and the residents. Through the hard work of staff in the Information & Technology division, Toronto Office of Partnerships and Toronto Community Housing, residents can enjoy free Internet access. I hope that we get a lot of positive input from this pilot so the City can explore the possibility of rolling this out to other Priority Investment Neighbourhoods," said Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong (Ward 34 Don Valley East). The councillor brought the idea to the City after seeing a similar initiative implemented in San Francisco.

The City transferred the ownership of 30 retired laptops complete with licensed software to the Toronto Community Housing tenant group at 155 Sherbourne St. and established a wireless hotspot allowing residents to access the Web in and around the building. Tenant representatives have developed an internal process to sign out the laptops and established acceptable use policies.

Residents will also receive computer and software training.

"For some residents, this is their first real exposure to computers and the Internet, and this pilot is very exciting for them. As they socialize with neighbours in the common area, they will be able to develop and improve computer skills, research job and training opportunities, and access information and services most of us take for granted. Computers and the internet are an important part of today's world, and it is vital that no one is left behind," said Councillor Pam McConnell (Ward 28 Toronto Centre-Rosedale).

"Toronto Community Housing is committed to supporting tenants so they can maintain successful tenancies. One of the best ways to achieve that success is by connecting tenants to opportunities like Internet access and computer training that can lead to gainful employment, career development and lifelong learning. We are delighted to be partners with the City of Toronto on this pilot project. What we learn will surely help our efforts to find new and innovative ways to build healthy communities," said Mitzie Hunter, Chief Administrative Officer of Toronto Community Housing.

This initiative is part of the City of Toronto's "Public Policy" Pilot Projects to provide free or low-cost Internet access to residents in Priority Investment Neighbourhoods. The 155 Sherbourne St. pilot will help determine the feasibility of possible future City of Toronto efforts to provide free or low-cost Internet access to residents of the 13 Priority Neighbourhoods for Investment.

Toronto is Canada's largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.6 million people. It is the economic engine of Canada and one of the greenest and most creative cities in North America. Toronto has won numerous awards for quality, innovation and efficiency in delivering public services. Toronto's government is dedicated to prosperity, opportunity and liveability for all its residents. For information about non-emergency City services and programs, Toronto residents, businesses and visitors can dial 311, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

About Toronto Community Housing

Toronto Community Housing is Canada's largest social housing provider and home to more than 164,000 tenants, about 6 per cent of the city's population, with low and moderate incomes. Toronto Community Housing employs 1,400 staff in a broad range of jobs who deliver its mandate to provide quality housing and build great neighbourhoods. Toronto Community Housing is one of Canada's 2010 Top 100 Employers.