Template of Desirable Community Content

Contract #U5251-9-4994

Prepared for

Industry Canada

Information Highway Applications Branch

155 Queen Street

Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0H5

Prepared by

Telecommunities Canada

Contact Information:

Gareth Shearman, President

Telecommunities Canada

4252 Commerce Circle

Victoria, BC V8Z 4M2


Gordon Pearson, Executive Director

Telecommunities Canada

399 Levis Street

Vanier, ON K1L 6G6



Table of Contents



2.1.Community Content Categories Template 3

2.2.Desirable Content 3

2.3.The Local Perspective 4

2.4.The Individual Perspective 4


3.1.Community Portal Software 5

3.1.1What is it? 5

3.1.2How does it work? 5

3.1.3Who is it for? 5

3.1.4Operational Prototype 5

3.2.The Powell River Experience 6

3.2.1Successes 6

3.2.2Improvements 6


4.1.Encourage locally relevant content 6

4.1.1Provide tools 7

4.1.2Test funding models 7

4.1.3Share content 7

4.2.Make it personal 7

4.3.Develop the Community Portal software 7

4.3.1Written documentation 8

4.3.2Help files 8

4.3.3Personal customization 8

4.3.4Compatibility 8

4.4.Integrate Community Portals into Access.Ca program 8


5.1.Template of Desirable Content Categories 9

5.2.Desirable Content Categories with examples 11

5.3.Participating Organizations 22

Table of Figures

Figure 1: Integrating Community Portals into Access.Ca ……………………………7


In January 2000, IHAB commissioned Telecommunities Canada (TC), a national association of community networking organizations, to create a draft community content template for urban and rural communities.

Drawing upon content channels from the Community Portal software developed by TC in 1999 with Industry Canada support, and using fresh input from 24 TC affiliates in both urban and rural Canada, the template indicates the categories of community content required for reasonable coverage of desired topics.

Under the contract, an operational Community Portal was established in Powell River BC. Powell River is a community of under 50,000 population served by the Powell River Community Network, a Telecommunities Canada affiliate. This Portal includes local content matching some of the categories in the draft template.


2.1.Community Content Categories Template

The appended template (Appendix 5.1) lists 75 community content categories compiled from input provided by 24 community networking organizations. The list of contributors (Appendix 5.3) shows a good range of communities, both large and small, rural and urban, covering eight Provinces across Canada.

As illustrated by the template, a broad range of categories is required to cover community content.

2.2.Desirable Content

Local community information and local services are important to Internet users.

In Community Networking and Access Initiatives in Canada (Public Interest Advocacy Centre, November 1998), Andrew Reddick analyzes the ‘Importance of Relevant Content’ in attracting Canadians to the Internet (emphasis added):

Use patterns suggest that the types of content services which have drawn users consist of public services which offer some societal or personal benefit, such as education, health, training, government and non-profit organizations, research, heritage and cultural information, as well as general information resources and services offered by certain types of companies, such as news, sports, entertainment, weather, computer and information technology information….While the Internet is often touted as technology which offers up national and international communication and information opportunities and resources to the public, trends suggest that what is of as much, if not more, importance for the public is the availability of rich, extensive and diverse local or community information and communication resources to complement these distance resources.

The community networking experience in Canada and the content category input received from networking organizations under the current project bear out Reddick’s findings.

2.3.The Local Perspective

Desirable community content takes into account uniquely local information and services such as public transportation schedules, local social services resources, local business directories and local discussion forums. It also includes general public information and services of regional, national and international interest.

In addition to generating local community information, communities filter and prioritize general community content categories to reflect local needs and interests. Generating uniquely local information and putting a local spin on the selection of general information are key elements in providing relevant community content.

No two communities are the same. A tool to help communities create and present relevant community content needs to be flexible. It needs to present a sufficiently broad range of options to enable communities to pick and choose content categories that are meaningful to them.

2.4.The Individual Perspective

Internet users appreciate easy access to community content and communications tools. Searching for relevant content can be an exhausting and time-consuming task, even if one has the skills to do it.

New users especially appreciate having a homepage that makes it easier to get started and easier to locate the information or other resources they want.

A local community homepage or portal is a good place to start, provided that it can be tailored easily to suit individual needs and provides access to non-local resources as well as local ones.

By the same token, a national homepage or portal is a good place to start if it is personally customizable and is easily linked to a local Community Portal that furnishes uniquely local content and a uniquely local view of the world.


3.1.Community Portal Software

3.1.1What is it?

Telecommunities Canada’s Community Portal is a pre-formatted yet customizable home page -- an Internet gateway that simplifies and personalizes use of the Internet by helping communities and individuals to tailor their on-line experience.

3.1.2How does it work?

The Community Portal encourages access to Canadian content and services by positioning them at the forefront. At the same time, it is customizable so that communities can present resources that are locally relevant and individuals can access content that meets their personal needs.

Pre-formatted channels display groups of links to information, resources and services. Channels of national interest are kept up to date in a central repository. Local hosts such as CAP sites can create their own pre-formatted channels, including local directories, for display to local users.

Individuals using a Community Portal for the first time are presented with a default page of existing content channels set up by the local host. Additional content can be selected from an underlying template of content categories. Users can delete or add channels at will and can create their own channels.

An individual who creates a channel for personal use has the option of making that channel public (or proposing that it be made public) so that other local users can select it from the underlying template of content categories. Local hosts can intervene by setting up an approval process to vet proposed public channels.

3.1.3Who is it for?

A Community Portal can be used by any business, organization or government department as well as community learning networks, CAP networks, CAP sites, local community networks and individuals.

3.1.4Operational Prototype

Telecommunities Canada and its partner, CSP Internet, developed the prototype Community Portal with seed funding from Industry Canada. Version 1.0 is currently operational and undergoing a test phase. In addition to the Powell River Community Portal at http://portal.prcn.org/ three other examples are available for review at http://portal.tc.ca/, http://portal.bccna.bc.ca/ and http://portal.victoria.tc.ca/

3.2.The Powell River Experience


The Powell River Community Network (PRCN) established a Community Portal in February 2000 with support from Telecommunities Canada. Shortly after the Portal became operational, Bev Collins, Manager of PRCN wrote:

We have already gotten positive feedback on the portal and the PRCN is excited about offering it as another "added-value" service for our customers. We have youth working on content and we hope to put together a section for Youth. We have already created a GAME SPY Channel because gaming is so popular in Powell River. Our First Nations CAP site, Sliammon, will also be building a channel. We are very excited about the "content-building" side of implementing the portal.

At its launch, the Powell River Community Portal featured a “Powell River” channel with links to the Chamber of Commerce, Kathaumixw, Logger Sports, local Musicians, the Public Library, the Visitors Bureau and the Sliammon First Nations.

Other prominently placed channels included the HRDC Job Bank for Vancouver Island, BC Ferries Schedule, KidTutor.com, Exchange Rates (a currency conversion tool), Government of BC News Releases and several news channels.


Commenting on the process of installing the prototype software, Ms. Collins wrote:

Once we got started on the Portal, it did not take long to implement. Feedback from our technician indicates that documentation was the biggest hurdle. I think that once it is well documented it will be easy for other sites to implement.

In a telephone interview conducted by TC’s Executive Director, PRCN’s technician said that the documentation currently available with the Portal software needs to be more comprehensive and should be written with a view to making installation easy for volunteer-based sites that may lack technical expertise.

PRCN staff also recommended that more help files be added to the interface to make it simpler for computer novices to set up and customize their personal Portals.


4.1.Encourage locally relevant content

Generating uniquely local information and putting a local spin on the selection of general information are key elements in providing relevant community content.

As local networking organizations, Community Networks and CAP sites are ideally placed to present locally relevant content to local users and to encourage the creation of uniquely local content by local information providers and local service providers.

4.1.1Provide tools

Building upon existing infrastructure, resources should be provided to Community Networks and CAP sites to encourage the presentation of locally relevant content. Tools such as the Community Portal software and regional servers to house local Portals should be made available.

4.1.2Test funding models

With a view to helping Community Networks and CAP sites establish local Community Portals, funding models should be tested to evaluate sustainability and seed funding requirements.

4.1.3Share content

In field tests of the Community Portal it has been shown that individuals can be important contributors of desirable content. Encouraging users to make personal channels publicly available increases the amount of relevant community content on the local Portal. Community Networks and CAP sites hosting Community Portals should establish a local vetting process to allow local users to propose public content channels.

Regionally relevant content channels should be shared by neighbouring Portals through a regional server.

4.2.Make it personal

Field tests of the Community Portal suggest that individuals appreciate being presented with a page of default channels as a starting point. Equally important, they value the ability to customize their personal Portal by deleting unwanted channels, adding channels from a template of available content, and creating their own new content channels. The degree to which people use and personalize their Portal likely depends on how easy it is to do so.

Their may be some merit in creating default pages of content channels based on user profiles – a seniors template, a youth template, a family template, and so on. However, profiled templates are likely to be useful only to the degree to which they are easily customizable by the individual.

An interactive process of selecting content channels based on areas of interest may be the most helpful approach.

4.3.Develop the Community Portal software

The Community Portal software has demonstrated strong potential as a tool for presenting local community content.

4.3.1Written documentation

Written documentation should be produced to make the software easier to install, especially for volunteer-based sites that may lack technical expertise.

4.3.2Help files

Additional help files should be developed to make the interface as user-friendly as possible.

4.3.3Personal customization

Further development of the software should be undertaken to make it easier for new users to customize a personal Portal. An interactive approach should be considered as a way to walk the user through the process of selecting desired content.


Software developments should ensure that the Portal software is compatible with Access.ca initiatives and priorities.

4.4.Integrate Community Portals into Access.Ca program

To ensure the availability of uniquely local content Canada-wide, locally hosted Community Portals should be integrated into the Access.ca program.

Figure 1: A user obtains community content either by visiting a national Website or by visiting a local Community Portal. Local Community Portals are also accessible through a national directory of CAP sites, Community Networks and Community Portals.


5.1.Template of Desirable Content Categories

Aboriginal (see also First Nations)


Act Locally / Think Globally


Agriculture, Farming

Arts & Entertainment



Banking & Financial Services

Beauty & Grooming

Building Community

Business/Commerce/Economic Development


Careers & Training


Community Resources


Connect to People Online

Consumer Issues

Directories - local, regional, national, international

Disability Information



Emergency Services


Ethnic groups

Family Links

First Nations (see also Aboriginal)







Government Services

Green Space Guide

Health & Medical



Internet / World Wide Web


Law & Consumer Information






Neighbouring Communities



Personal Web Pages


Recreation, Crafts & Hobbies









Site Index

Social Services

Society & Culture


Sports & Fitness

Technical Support





Voting and Opinion Polls




5.2.Desirable Content Categories with examples

Aboriginal (see also First Nations)


- community

- co-ops

- Home Renovation

- Home Repair

- realtors

- rental

- seniors

- shelters

- student

Act Locally / Think Globally

- alternative news networks

- campaigns

- community media

- conservation initiatives

- environmental groups

- food and shelter opportunities

- hot spots

- neighbourhood events

- news reports

- support groups

- volunteer centres


- Community

- Consumer

Agriculture, Farming

- Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

- Canadian Organic Growers

- Canadian Rural Information Services

- EcoAction 2000

- Garden Centres

- The Canadian Nature Federation

Arts & Entertainment

- art dealers

- art materials and supplies

- Artists - commercial

- Artists - fine arts

- Bars & Nightlife

- Books, Magazines, Newspapers

- Canadian Authors

- Concerts

- Events / Festivals

- Movies

- Museums & Galleries

- Music

- organizations

- performers

- Project Gutenberg

- Theatre


- arts & culture

- business & trade

- clubs

- environmental

- other associations

- Professional Associations

- service organizations


- Accessories

- dealers

- Parts

- repair and service

- Wreckers

Banking & Financial Services

- Bankruptcy

- calculators, converters, mortgages,

- Chartered Accountants

- Financial Consultants

- Income Tax

- Insurance Agencies

- Investments

Beauty & Grooming

Building Community

- community centres

- community gardens

- historical societies

- neighbourhood houses

- writers/readers groups

Business/Commerce/Economic Development

- Business Education and Employment Training Opportunities

- business opportunities

- Canadian Branch of the Chamber of Commerce

- chamber of commerce

- Consultants

- Forms & systems

- Human Resources Development Canada

- Ontario Ministry of Economic Development & Trade

- Resources for Businesses and Entrepreneurs

- small business

- Stock Quotations


- demographics

- Geography

- Heroes

- History

- local history, geography, latitude, longitude, maps, etc.

- photos

- Prime Ministers

- regional

- seniors on-line

- Wars

Careers & Training

- Agencies

- Assistance\Mentors

- Career orientation

- Training


- Internet services

- Telephone

Community Resources

- adult daycare programs

- alcohol & drugs information & treatment

- animal control

- animal shelters

- chamber of commerce

- community calendar - week of..

- community leagues

- consumer information

- cultural organizations

- libraries

- meals on wheels

- meeting places

- nonprofit organizations and support groups,

- service organizations

- social programs


- freeware

- Apple/Macintosh

- computer training

- consultants

- for sale

- installation

- Microsoft

- repairs

- Shareware

Connect to People Online

- help

- locally

- shared interests

- support

Consumer Issues

- Better Business Bureau

- Consumers' Association of Canada

- Product reviews

Directories - local, regional, national, international

- accommodations

- Arts & Entertainment

- associations

- Business

- dining

- Education

- Laundromats

- Local initiatives

- maps & routes

- Medical

- organizations

- Parks and Recreation Centres

- professional and trade organizations

- service organizations

- Tourism

- Volunteer, non-profit and charitable organizations

Disability Information

- recreational resources(by obstacle type)

- support services

- wheelchair access information


- Chat services

- current issues

- Usenet News


- Boards of Education

- continuing adult education

- Distance\Online education


- forums to let parents speak and meet each other

- Home Schooling

- Learning Disabilities

- Lifelong learning

- Literacy

- local schools

- Music teachers

- night courses

- outdoor education

- parent association

- parent helping parent group

- Private Schools

- Private teachers

- private training school

- Universities, Colleges, Business Schools

Emergency Services

- Ambulance

- Crisis lines

- Fire

- Pest Control

- Poison Control

- Police

- Veterinary services


- conservation

- ecology

- organizations

- products

- recycling services

Ethnic groups

- Business enterprises

- Culture - language & traditions

Family Links

- 4H

- care

- family planning

- Guiding

- Homework Help

- Kids on the Web

- parenting

- Scouting

First Nations (see also Aboriginal)

- business enterprises

- Chief and Council: biographies

- Council Administration, staff

- culture - language & traditions

- current initiatives

- history - pre-contact/post-contact

- land claims

- Our knowledge of our territory: traditional knowledge, our elders

- who we are - our worldview & vision


- cooking

- farm produce - U-Pick, farmers markets

- food banks

- genetically modified food

- natural foods

- products





- FamilySearch Internet Genealogy Service


- announcements & publications (all levels)

- Federal

- Municipal

- Provincial

- Public participation Hearing, Consultations

- Regional

Government Services

- application forms, payment

- Electronic Post Office

- Garbage / Snow removal

- Licenses, forms

- Netfile [electronic submission of tax returns]

- Regulatory agencies

Green Space Guide

- accessible by public transit

- cycling trails

- hiking

Health & Medical


- alternative health

- Canadian Health Network

- Chiropractor

- crisis lines

- Dental Clinic

- Dentist

- Diet

- Drug Abuse Clinics

- Elderly Care & Services

- flu alerts

- Health Care & Maintenance Services

- Health Clubs

- Health Foods

- Health Insurance

- Health Organizations

- healthy lifestyles

- Hospitals

- Hostiles

- Labs

- mental health services

- nutrition

- Optical

- Pharmaceutical Information Network

- Physicians/Specialists

- prescription alerts

- PubMed [from the U. S. National Library of Medicine

- Quackwatch [Guide to Health Fraud, Quackery, and Intelligent Decisions

- seniors care & services

- Vitamins

- Walk In Clinics


- advocacy

- counseling

- employment

- food

- legal

- shelter


- directories

- governments

- housing

- information services

- Internet services

- libraries

- utility companies

Internet / World Wide Web

- about the Internet

- Chat Services

- free E-mail account providers

- get an E-mail account

- global community issues

- how to author for the web

- how to build a web page

- how to search

- Internet safety (for kids)

- ISPs

- local training & seminars

- newsgroups - how to participate, start one

- Telecommunities

- Usenet News


- Career Information and Skills Training

- classified ads

- employment agencies

- Employment Resources and Agencies

- Funding, Bursaries, Grants

- job banks

- Job Boards

- Labour News

- resumes

- Self Employment Support/Programs

- temporary

- training

Law & Consumer Information

- Canadian Legal Information Centre

- Department of Justice - Canada

- Supreme Court of Canada

- Virtual Law Library


- Business

- Institutional

- International links

- local info

- Music

- National links

- Provincial links

- Public



- TV

- advertising agencies

- alternative media

- Magazines

- Newspapers

- publishers

- Radio



Neighbouring Communities

- links to regional communities


- air quality reports

- Community bulletins/Public Service Announcements

- Headlines from local media

- Headlines from regional, national, international media

- Internet tabloids

- traffic reports


- family

- gay

- kids

- lesbian

- PWAs

- seniors

- youth

Personal Web Pages


- Links to political parties - municipal, regional, provincial and federal offices

Recreation, Crafts & Hobbies

- Bowling

- Cycling

- Fishing

- Gardening

- Hiking

- Hunting

- local facilities, events

- Marine

- Rafting

- rock climbing

- Sailing

- Sports

- Swimming

- trail riding


- Bottle Depot


- Atlases

- Dictionaries

- encyclopediae

- Schoolnet

- Special Needs Opportunities

- Statistics Canada

- Thesaurus



- Astronomy

- Ecology

- environment

- Genetically modified food

- Genetics

- Space


- Find a person/Find a business (411)

- Internet search engines

- maps

- Postal Code lookup

- reverse lookups

- Search this site


- Activities

- Elder Abuse Network

- Finance

- Health

- Legal

- Retirement

- Services for Seniors

- transportation services

- Wills


- Education

- Gay and Lesbian

- Information

- Planned parenting

- pornography

- Seniors

- Youth


- auctions

- Automotive

- coupons

- food - farmers markets, U-pick, etc.

- online auctions

- online shopping

- Real estate

- Retail

- Travel

Site Index

Social Services

- Adoption

Society & Culture

- Canadian Genealogy

- Languages

- Recreation, Crafts & Hobbies


Sports & Fitness

- amateur

- professional

- youth

Technical Support

- email this site's helpdesk

- FAQs

- help desk


- Accommodation

- Attractions

- Canadian Parks

- Ecotourism

- Events Calendar

- Restaurants

- Transportation


- air

- bus

- issues

- marine

- public transit

- rail

- taxis


- Cable

- Electricity

- Heat

- Internet Access

- Telephone

- Water/Sewage


- placements

- services


- Farmer's Almanac

- local weather

- nautical report

- snow report

- tide report

Voting and Opinion Polls



- band

- brownies

- Cadets

- Guides

- Peers

- Programs

- Scouts

- student council

- teen clubs

- Youth and Government

5.3.Participating Organizations

Brant FreeNet


Campbell River Community Network


Chebucto Community Net




Cowichan Lake Information Access Society


Edmonton FreeNet


First People's Net


Fraser Lake Internet Society


Grassroots Information Association of Antigonish


Great Plains Free-Net


Hamilton-Wentworth Community Network


Hudson's Hope Community Network Society


Ladysmith Community Centre CAP


Lower Coverdale Community Access Centre


National Capital FreeNet


Nouveau Libertel


Shuswap Outreach Society (Sicamous, BC)


Tatlayoko Think Tank


Toronto Free-Net


Upper Skeena Development Centre


Valleylinks Community Network


Vancouver Community Network


Victoria Free-Net Association