Town council joins the fight against post office downsizing

 

 

By Ron Giofu

Town council voiced opposition to the idea of downsizing at the Amherstburg post office and will be voicing its displeasure to the federal government.

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A resolution passed Monday night will be sent to Minister of State for Transport Steven Fletcher, the minister who oversees Canada Post, and calls for the downsizing of such post offices as the one in Amherstburg to be stopped and that the public be consulted in the post office’s future. The resolution will also be sent to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) as well as Essex County council.

The motion came after a presentation by CUPW Local 500 president Sue Markham. Markham said that people in Amherstburg will see a difference at their local post office come July 22.

“You are going to see something completely different than what you’ve seen in the past,” she said, noting that plans call for a “hole in the wall” to replace the current counter that is at the Richmond St. post office.

Markham said she was notified in late June about the changes, which will be occurring in Leamington as well as Amherstburg, and believed it was a concern that there was no disclosure to the public. According to Markham, the changes are “degrading” the post office and said “good jobs” are being threatened with two positions potentially on the chopping block in Amherstburg and one in Leamington.

A mandatory review of Canada Post is due in 2014 and Markham said she and her colleagues wonder why changes are scheduled for this year.

“We think it’s a little premature to downsize without a public review,” she said.

Canada Post has a “really amazing network of postal service in this country,” she stated. In Amherstburg, the post office fits “snugly” in the downtown core and “is a pretty big drawing card for local businesses.” She said many people go to local businesses after visiting the post office.

There is a fear that lines will mount at the post office, causing people to go to retail locations such as Shoppers Drug Mart and thus weaken the post office location itself. Concerns over privatizing postal service were also raised.

Markham acknowledged that letter mail volumes are down but parcel volumes are up.

“We see avenues to grow this business,” she told town council.

Councillor Carolyn Davies believed public services like Canada Post need to be protected.

“It puts us as a community at risk,” she said. “A hole in the wall discourages people from going (to the post office).”

Davies said the post office is “very busy place to be” adding that it has a tradition of being a meeting place for people in towns like Amherstburg.

“You’d hate to think there is a strategy to destroy a public service,” mused Davies.

Councillor Bart DiPasquale made the motion, believing that downsizing the post office would have a negative impact to people in Amherstburg.

“It’s a Canada-wide problem and certainly Ontario-wide,” added chief administrative officer Mike Phipps.

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