Vancouver city council is set to vote next week on a strategy aimed at increasing digital access and services across the city and supporting the digital media industry.
Among nine priority initiatives outlined in a staff report on the strategy are measures including: expanding the city’s open data program; creating a favourable regulatory environment that supports digital industry; and establishing a “digital incubation program” to encourage digital talent to stay or locate to Vancouver.
The City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Economic Commission have issued a request for expressions of interest for a technology incubation and acceleration centre at the former Vancouver police station at Main and Hastings streets.
The strategy also calls for expanded digital access throughout the city, including the implementation of wi-fi across city facilities, and in designated areas such as Granville Mall.
The digital strategy was launched in 2012 as part of the Vancouver Services Review. The staff report notes that according to the Environics market research firm, 17 percent of Vancouver homes do not have Internet access.
“While Canadians continue to rank among the world's top Internet users, as noted by research firm ComScore, joining and participating in the online world is not easy for everyone,” the report reads. “Digital skills and ability vary dramatically by age and income.”
The total estimated value of the digital strategy is approximately $30 million throughout the span of the plan, the majority of which already has funding in place as part of the 2013 budget process. Remaining initiatives that will cost an estimated $1 to $2 million will come to council as a separate report or as part of the regular budget and capital planning processes, according to city staff.
Sandra Singh, Vancouver’s chief librarian, will provide a report to city council on the strategy next Tuesday (April 9).