Canada Post is looking for ways to streamline its service in the face of looming financial difficulties, and is currently considering suspending Saturday service at the Salmo post office.
“Last year we delivered one billion fewer letters than 2006. We’re a Crown corporation. Our mandate is to operate sustainably and without being a burden on taxpayers,” said Eugene Knapik, manager of media relations at Canada Post.
Knapik said Canada Post has been looking at its network for ways to “protect service and find efficiencies.” Recently it announced plans to cut up to 8,000 jobs as it phases out urban home mail delivery over the next five years.
Knapik said Saturdays receive low traffic in Salmo, and it was identified as a potential way to save money. He said they’re also considering extending hours during the week to make up for the lost time.
Knapik wasn’t aware of any community feedback until he was contacted by a reporter earlier this week.
“There was some concern that people commute, they live there and work elsewhere. The concern was that it would be difficult to get to the post office during its open hours,” he said.
“The thing is, we know there’s not a lot of people using it on Saturdays. But we appreciate that feedback and any other feedback as we’re making our decision.”
The decision will be made in the coming months.
“We’ll have a much better idea by mid-fall,” he said.
Knapik said Salmo residents who would be unhappy to see the post office lose service on Saturdays can contact Canada Post customer service or send a letter to their local post office.
“We’re trying to make decisions that in the long run will protect service to smaller communities. If we can run with a few less hours and run more efficiently, we can keep the post office going in a lot of communities.”
Alex Atamanenko, MP of BC Southern Interior, in an August 21 letter addressed to Lisa Raitt, the federal minister responsible, spoke out against the potential closure.
“To my knowledge, no public consultation by Canada Post has been done to gather community feedback on the proposed change in hours,” he said.
Atamanenko attached a letter from the Village of Salmo and emails from several members of the community, which outlined their concerns.
Reached by the Star while traveling on Monday, Atamanenko said closing the post office on Saturdays will be a “hardship for the community”.
“We see this a lot. When they want to do cutting it’s always on the backs of small rural communities. Why don’t they cut in Vancouver?” he asked.
Canada Post has already eliminated Saturday service at several other local post offices, including Balfour, Crescent Valley, and Slocan Park.
Atamanenko is concerned further reductions could be on the way. “It’s really important that we rally around our essential services,” he said.