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Go wireless at the Hot Spot

A Hot Spot in Squamish is focused on conquering the digital divide. Hot Spot, at 38027 Cleveland Ave.

A Hot Spot in Squamish is focused on conquering the digital divide.

Hot Spot, at 38027 Cleveland Ave., is a joint venture between the Squamish Volunteer Centre and the Sea to Sky Freenet Association that provides free or cheap Internet access to everyone, but especially groups who are left out of the technology loop.

"Particular groups are disadvantaged when it comes to technology," said Pam Gliatis, the coordinator for the Sea to Sky Freenet Association.

We want to bridge that divide by making sure there is support for people who don't know how to use the Internet, or those who can't afford it, she said.

Hot Spot offers free drop in for seniors on Wednesday, where volunteers answer questions and show them how to navigate the Net. School age children can stop in on school days from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and do their homework or research for free.

But Hot Spot also has a more general focus on making the Internet available to all.

"We're kind of a safety net so everybody in town has the Internet," Gliatis said.

Technology is a tool that should be made available to everybody, she said.

Hot Spot is entrepreneurial in the sense that is supports itself through user fees, which are $1 for half an hour for Internet access, except during certain times of day when it is offered to certain groups for free.

But it is non-profit in the sense it doesn't bar those who can't afford to pay the fees. On Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Tuesdays from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. there is free Internet access for everyone.

"We've broken down a lot of barriers between non-profit and entrepreneurial," Gliatis said.

Hot Spot is trying to create a sense of community, and a way to access community resources. It offers a free web host for non-profit organizations, workshops, cyber camps, wireless Internet for $4 per half hour, a café area to meet, and access to a printer, scanner, CD burner and fax machine.

"We're trying to be a place where people can walk in and get help," Gliatis said.

Hot Spot is open 12 hours a day from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week.