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By Amy Fendley It may be difficult to imagine that life goes on outside the little valley known as Whistler, but for those fortunate enough to have their own internet access, e-mail and CD ROMs, they know. They know because they’ve downloaded and seen the great world beyond. So where would the valley-dwellers without access be without Whistler Secondary’s Internet Cafe? That question has been answered. Industry Canada has proven that not only is the Cafe a great example of a viable resource for a rural community, but also a very sustainable idea. The free internet workshops offered at the high school’s Internet Cafe and organized through the Whistler Community Access Program (CAP) received an honourable mention from Industry Canada for "a long-term sustainability idea exemplifying the perfect management model." The honourable mention was due to the social workshops offered by the Internet Cafe such, the Coffee Club and Business Lunch with Us. The workshops focus on topics such as healthy living sites, travel and leisure and security issues for business use of the internet, aimed at the local community and small business users. The cafe experienced a $5,000 profit from September 1998 to January 1999, charging $3 for 30 minutes of computer time. Whistler school board trustee Ele Clarke last year co-ordinated Whistler’s CAP grant of $30,000, which was to be spent over two years on maintaining sustainable computer access programs. "It’s big money," says Clarke. "Part of the program is to maintain sustainability. We’re really proud because we’ve been able to do so much with it." CAP is a federally funded project aimed at providing rural communities with affordable access to the internet, in order to search for career, employment, business or general information. CAP operates under a two-year community grant from Industry Canada and has provided funding for a partnership group offering computer access at three locations in Whistler. The group involves Whistler Secondary School, Whistler Chamber of Commerce, Whistler Public Library and the RMOW. Myrtle Philip Community School is also in the process of becoming a new CAP site, as the library is installing one new internet accessible computer with CD ROM and printer to be used for student research. Students contribute to CAP Centres by offering technical support, administrative support, community outreach training, internet skills development and Web page development. Five Whistler Secondary students, called CAP trainers, help to run the Internet Cafe, one of whom is 17 year-old Jodi Edgar. April 15 is the date he and Josh Adelberg have set to have a web page designed for the high school. Edgar says the program has helped him and his peers learn hands-on about public service and to recognize the Internet Cafe project as valuable work experience. "We’ve had some overflow," says Edgar. "We don’t want to have limits on service, because we don’t want to turn down customers, but we have to have a waiting list." Both Whistler Public Library and the Whistler Chamber of Commerce Employment Centre have waiting lists as well. Michelle Rideout, employment co-ordinator for the WCC, says that they are considering a new program called CAPture the Future. Through the program students will be enabled to develop important workplace, information technology and employability skills. The Employment Centre has two computers available for public use. With the exception of e-mail, computer access at the centre is for employment-related tasks only. The library has four computers available for public use, but no e-mail and due to increasing demand you must reserve a time slot in advance. Whistler Secondary has a modern computer lab with 22 computers for public use. The lab is available for word processing, internet and e-mail access. Each location has individual hours and fees associated with its services.

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