PERTH - If Perth town council can agree on anything, it is that they can’t quite agree on the need for Wi-Fi in downtown Perth.
“I’m not so sure that Wi-Fi is the way to go,” said Coun. Jim Boldt during budget deliberation day on Friday, Jan. 25, about the $12,000 that has been ear-marked for installing Wi-Fi in downtown Perth, with $6,000 slotted for Wi-Fi at Last Duel Park. “We should be pulling back the reins on Wi-Fi and invest in our downtown.”
He added that, as technology continues to evolve at a mind-boggling rate, Wi-Fi may, in his estimation, become obsolete technology in as little as a few years.
“Businesses come and go,” said Mayor John Fenik, the main proponent of the plan, defending it against councillors who see the plan as taking away from the Wi-Fi offered by several businesses downtown. “The interest in Wi-Fi is economic development.”
In answer to Boldt’s query about the changing face of technology, Fenik held up his BlackBerry and stated: “I’m picking up an iPhone at the end of the day. The method (of receiving Internet) will change…Wi-Fi will never be out of date.”
Boldt proposed a trial period for Wi-Fi downtown before it is rolled out to Last Duel Park.
“I know when I travel, I am always looking for Wi-Fi,” said Coun. Judy Brown.
Coun. Ed McPherson, however, was not in favour of Wi-Fi downtown.
“I have no problem with Wi-Fi in Last Duel Park, if people pay for it,” said McPherson, who also did not want to see the town offering a service for free that businesses pay for in order to entice customers.
“This is such a low-cost item,” said Fenik in reply. “We are not a private business. We are here to provide a service.”