Petition out to save Chelsea, Que post office


by Mark Burgess on September 24, 2009

Sparked by a petition to save the Chelsea, Quebec post office circulating around town, a rumour that Canada Post is closing its local branch has residents worried about the future of rural postal service.

The crown corporation is allegedly considering amalgamating some of its outlets, opening kiosks within other businesses in order to save on rent, and closing some offices entirely.

The Canada Post union is fighting back against the Conservative government, whose strategic examination of rural offices imperils local branches’ survival.

Jacques Vezina, provincial secretary of the postmaster’s union, said the government’s April report recommended closing branches in towns of less than 10,000 people and opening up kiosks within other businesses for postal service.

Vezina said this goes against Jean Chretien’s Liberal government’s moratorium on closures in 1994.

He said the government changed course two weeks ago due to complaints and will honour the 1994 moratorium. However, Vezina said rural offices could still be shut down if the postmaster leaves or if the building is in disrepair. Postmasters can leave for any number of reasons, including promotion or relocation, which leaves offices in small towns vulnerable.

Petitions have been distributed to some municipalities, including Chelsea. Harry Nowell, a photographer who signed the petition, said losing the post office would negatively impact his business by forcing him to drive to Hull. He also said the service in Chelsea is outstanding.

“The people there are super. They have my packages ready before I even get to the counter,” he said.

Vezina said the corporation is still profitable from its offices in urban centres and doesn’t need to cut its rural offices to survive. In addition to the petitions, he is asking municipalities to adopt resolutions to save their local offices.