Both Union Montreal and Vision Montreal have an element on their platforms that some technologically-inclined Montrealers might find interesting: free (or cheap) wireless Internet access in public parks and other public areas.
The idea isn’t new. The city first approached the volunteer group Ile Sans Fil more than two years ago to talk about setting up such a system. Ile Sans Fil provides free wireless Internet through more than 150 access points in the city, most through places like coffee shops who pay ISF a small fee.
The city has even conducted studies and hearings on the subject, and a presentation given in November 2007 resulted in only one comment, in support of the project. In a report, filed at the beginning of 2008 (PDF), the city’s commission on economic development recommended setting up a network with Ile Sans Fil.
For various reasons internal to the city’s operation, this issue has been sitting on a shelf since then. ISF even appealed to the public in August 2008, (perhaps prematurely), though specifying that the group wasn’t in danger if the deal fell through. ISF were expecting a call for tenders earlier this year on a free wifi project, which it would then bid on and be a clear favourite for, but it never came.
Both Tremblay and Harel should be somewhat embarrassed to have this on their platforms. Tremblay because the city hasn’t acted on this yet despite the preliminary work being done, and Harel because it was an idea of the Tremblay administration that her party has now stolen.