Sign up to save service, residents asked

"Imagine having to travel perhaps up to 100 kilometres round trip to pick up your mail, which would involve bills sent to you, and in many cases, cheques that you rely on," Burgess said. "And would you make the trip once a week, or perhaps twice?" Macdonald Township treasurer Brenda Barbarie said residents have expressed their fears to her.

http://www.saultstar.com
November 12, 2009

Sign up to save service, residents asked
Tom Keenan, Special to the Star

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Walk into the Macdonald, Meredith and Aberdeen Additional Township office and you will encounter more than mailboxes and neighbourly chit-chat.

A petition on the counter asks residents fearing the loss of their post office to sign up. A moratorium on post office closures was lifted in 1994, and some here fear the federal government is contemplating closing more smaller postal outlets.

MP Carol Hughes agrees.

The Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing MP recently presented a petition from residents within the riding to the federal government.

"People in the Highway 11 corridor are really upset with the government and its closing of smaller post offices," said Jamie Burgess, parliamentary assistant to Hughes. The matter came to a head in the Kapuskasing area with the closing of the post office in rural Constance Lake.

"What it now means is that residents who had used that particular post office now have to find a way to get to Hearst to pick up their mail, and that is a 90-kilo-metre, round-trip drive," Burgess said.

Burgess added that such a closure in Algoma could see residents travelling to Sault Ste. Marie, or Blind River, to retrieve their mail.

"Imagine having to travel perhaps up to 100 kilometres round trip to pick up your mail, which would involve bills sent to you, and in many cases, cheques that you rely on," Burgess said. "And would you make the trip once a week, or perhaps twice?"

Macdonald Township treasurer Brenda Barbarie said residents have expressed their fears to her.

"Although there are no definite signs out there (of local outlet closures), people are constantly concerned," Burgess said.

Hughes's petition asks the federal government to ensure that moratoriums on post office closures be reinstated.

"(Hughes) is asking the government to give assurances to rural people that Canada Post must, if anything, expand and improve services within rural areas," Burgess said, adding a government reply is expected within 45 days. If none is received, the document is then sent to committee to determine a response.

"We just have to wait and see what might happen," said Paula McAuley, of the Echo Bay outlet.

"If smaller post offices were to be closed, perhaps Canada Post might start delivery, or they could install the group mail boxes that you now see so much of on street corners in subdivisions."

The petition is timely, Burgess said. "There is fear that more communities will be targeted to lose their postal service as money becomes tight, especially in the economic slowdown presently being experienced."

Article ID# 2172417

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