Canada Post upgrade is a community downer

…the post office is about to update its image. But you may not know that the cost of these upgrades is being borne by the guy on the corner who sells you your stamps. Because the guy on the corner is running a franchise, and those are the rules: It is going to cost each operator tens of thousands of dollars for new counters and computers… Canada Post has entered into a deal with Shoppers Drug Mart at the expense of the little corner post offices.

The Toronto Star
March 3, 2010

Canada Post upgrade is a community downer
Joe Fiorito

The sound of a Canada Post official being grilled is not sizzle, it is silence.

As you may know, the post office is about to update its image. But you may not know that the cost of these upgrades is being borne by the guy on the corner who sells you your stamps.

Because the guy on the corner is running a franchise, and those are the rules: It is going to cost each operator tens of thousands of dollars for new counters and computers.

Many – I'd guess most – of them do not have tens of thousands of dollars to throw around.

As a result, the Double-D-Store postal outlet near Coxwell and Danforth was forced to close; the outlet in the strip mall near Markham Rd. and Eglinton also went out of business.

And so on, across the city.

A neighbourhood without a handy place to buy a stamp or mail a parcel to the folks back home is a poor neighbourhood indeed.

Which is why, with the help of MP Jack Layton, the people who live near Danforth and Coxwell called a couple of senior Canada Post officials to a meeting on a recent Sunday afternoon.

The officials got an earful.

A resident named Cathy said, "I live near Greenwood and Gerrard. I found out my post office was closed when I got a notice of a parcel. It said I had to go to the Shoppers Drug Mart. From my house, that's a good distance. I've just had surgery.

"I thought I'd use transit. I got the bus, then the Greenwood streetcar, then a second bus, and then I had to walk because the Shoppers isn't near the stop.

"I got my parcel. I had to walk a good distance to get to the TTC stop going home. Luckily, it was a nice day. There's no shelter at the stop."

And then she said, "I never got any notice that the postal outlet was closing."

A sore point, this.

Two sore points, actually.

Not only did residents get no warning of the closure, but there is fear in the neighbourhood – some of it expressed by Layton – that Canada Post has entered into a deal with Shoppers Drug Mart at the expense of the little corner post offices.

A woman named Jill said, "I have Canada Post's service charter. There's supposed to be convenient access to postal services. I mail packages to my family in the Yukon. It's my lifeline to my family. You try taking a 35-pound package on public transit."

As more people spoke, officials squirmed more visibly. A woman said, "I grew up in England – the pub, the garage, the post office – the hub of the community. When I moved here, I felt that village feel. For me to go down to Lake Shore?"

Not her village, not down there.

Margaret said, "You're pulling our community apart, piece by piece."

Daniel said, "My mother is older. We're supposed to be green. It's convenient to walk to the corner."

And then Murray said, "New Canadians send big packages at Christmas. What are they doing now? I can get around, but lots can't."

There were some postal outlet operators in the audience; two of them have been put out of business as a result of the actions of Canada Post; one of them has lost his life's savings.

This is real and serious.

In the end, there were two committees formed: one to find a solution to the loss of the Double-D on Danforth, and another to figure out a way to organize the city's little postal outlet operators.

I asked one of the Canada Post officials – a communications guy – why there had been no consultations with the community in advance of the closures.

He had no answer.

Joe Fiorito appears Monday, Wednesday and Friday. ac.ratseht|otiroifj#ac.ratseht|otiroifj

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/774175--fiorito-canada-post-upgrade-is-a-community-downer


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