Residents need to remain wary to retain current level of service
© Photo special to The Guardian
Vernon Bridge residents have good reason to be apprehensive about a survey being conducted by Canada Post regarding mail delivery options for the community.
There is precedent aplenty that if Canada Post is left to its own devices, staff will be laid off, stakeholders will be inconvenienced and if it means that local residents must trek through snowbanks to access a community bank of outdoor boxes, then so be it.
A decision by Canada Post last spring changing the way mail is sorted still has many Islanders scratching their heads. All mail sent from P.E.I. is now trucked to Halifax, sorted and shipped back to P.E.I. for delivery. The only reason that makes sense is this system must require fewer people, uses more automation and saves money. Speedy service to customers can’t be a concern.
It was almost laughable when a senior Canada Post official sent out letters to one rural P.E.I. community several years ago announcing it was ending Saturday morning post office service. He tried to argue that ending Saturday morning service was somehow going to allow Canada Post to do a better job and customers would see the benefits. How?
With a majority of local community people working in Charlottetown and away from the community Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., their only chance to pick up a package, mail parcels, send a money order or renew mail box contracts, etc. was on Saturday morning.
The only thing the Saturday closure accomplished was laying off a part-time local employee. Then-Opposition Leader Olive Crane wrote strongly worded letters to Canada Post and raised the issue in the P.E.I. Legislature, all to no avail.
The problems facing Vernon Bridge began when the local postmaster got a transfer. That prompted Canada Post to send out a survey last month about mail delivery options. A local resident raised fears the local post office will close down as has happened in other areas when employees left.
For general delivery, the survey asks customers if they prefer to switch to community mailboxes, pick up their mail in Charlottetown or Stratford or get a new post office in the community. The reference to Charlottetown and Stratford should raise alarm bells in the Vernon Bridge-Vernon River area.
A Canada Post spokeswoman said whatever happens will be based on the results of the survey and once the results are in, democracy will rule. That will be a pleasant and unexpected change in recent Canada Post policy.
Brudenell saves schoolhouse
The local Brudenell community council deserves kudos for taking the initiative and saving the old schoolhouse in the community near Montague. The results of a two-year effort were officially recognized earlier this month with a ribbon cutting during the grand re-opening of the venerable old building.
Council chairwoman Peggy Coffin said it took an unbelievable amount of work to raise funds and get the building renovated but it was all worth it because now they have a beautiful building ready to serve the community for another 100 years.
Coffin paid special tribute to fellow council member Frank Dolan, who oversaw the project and spent much of the past summer supervising the work. The two-year project began with a new foundation and heating system. The rebuilding continued with water, insulation, shingling, windows, roof and a complete painting. The community contributed $13,000 towards a renovation assisted by both levels of government to cover the estimated $70,000 project.
Such facilities are invaluable for many rural communities and serve as a focal point for local events, gatherings or reunions. They are an important link with our past.