Turning a Corner – and Walking into the Newly Renovated PARC Internet Café

reBOOT Canada’s legacy technology access program, reSOURCE, has evolved since its beginnings in 1995 but remains at the heart of our operation. By supplying enterprise-grade reliable computer and work solutions to the charitable and not-for-profit sectors, we try to get the most impact and support to these crucial organizations as they in turn support individuals and families that rely on social assistance across the country. 

reBOOT Canada’s core technology access program, reSTART, has been running since 2015, providing reliable and subsidized computer technology directly to individuals and families facing challenges and experiencing low income.

For some folks., though, owning a computer is neither practical nor desirable. The reasons are often a precarious shelter situation or simply lack of Internet connectivity. In these cases, community hubs that allocate a safe space and resources to internet cafes – a shared pool of computers with internet access – are vital to bridging the gap in access to technology and connectivity. The Parkdale Activity Recreation Centre at 1499 Queen Street West was an early champion and leader in recognizing the value of access to the internet in addressing isolation and access to programs.   

Initially reBOOT Canada worked with PARC to launch our Community reLAY project and in 2017 the partnership grew to include management and maintenance of their 10-seat Internet Café.  Operating in its own and independent IT infrastructure, pre-pandemic it would see several hundred visitors every week. That all changed in March 2020. The Internet café, with its 10 seats in close proximity, was closed down. For the next 18 months, the space would be used for storage and other purposes precipitated by the state of emergency and the particular risk to the vulnerable population that makes up the PARC community.  

Until now:  on December 1,  the Internet Café was relaunched with new equipment, a renovated area with more privacy, more space and a slightly reduced capacity to allow for physical distancing. It is a great pleasure to be part of this project and we can’t wait to open the doors fully to PARC’s members so they can once again learn, access programs and services, and reconnect.

Isaac Giles, leader of the Digital Divide Membership Admin Support team at PARC says:

“In my role in the drop-in, I have been tasked to tackle the digital divide faced by our clientele, working with PARC members to increase digital literacy skills and instill confidence in using technology. To aid in my work, we have worked with reBOOT Canada to set up the computer café once again. After installing glass dividers, the café is now equipped with 6 newly refurbished computer stations. Having computers available in our Drop-in Centre offers an excellent opportunity for our members to develop computer skills that will tackle the increasing divide in an increasingly digital world.”

With the space remodelled to allow for better physical distancing and the equipment adapted to use in a pandemic world, the keyboards and mice are medical grade to withstand cleaning with disinfectants several times a day, it is our hope that the PARC Internet Café is going to be a community hub for digital literacy and community once again.