DUNCHURCH - The deadline to find a new permanent location for the post office in Dunchurch is fast approaching, and residents are getting concerned.
Potential post office closure concerns local residents.
The Dunchurch Post Office.
Sherry Green photo
The post office in the small community east of Parry Sound is, at present, located in a temporary trailer supplied by the municipality. Canada Post is not entirely happy with that arrangement.
The crown corporation wants a permanent location with a postmaster in the town, but a person and location have not been forthcoming. In the event that a site and candidate can’t be found, Dunchurch would likely have its post office replaced with a large community mailbox.
Sherry Green, a community member of Dunchurch, said losing the office would create difficulties for many people in the town.
“We don’t want to lose the post office and once it’s gone it’s gone. They’re not going to go back to a postmaster supplied office after they put boxes in,” said Green. “Our community is based on elderly residents and some people don’t drive. Removing the post office would mean they would have to drive someplace else to pick up the post.”
The seeds of the issue were planted in 2006 when the then postmistress retired. From there, the office moved to the At the Bridge Studio before moving again in 2009 to, where it is now, at the temporary trailer.
Canada Post said they are continuing to look for a new permanent location for the office. In the meantime, the crown corporation is working with the municipality to find a location for a community mailbox.
Green said community mailboxes wouldn’t fulfill many of the community’s postal needs.
“What are they going to do with parcels? Where are they going to put them? Are residents going to have to go to get them? We don’t know any of that information, but Canada Post is forging ahead and looking for locations to put them there,” said Green.
An interested postmaster is required to provide a location that meets a series of Canada Post requirements. For example, the new location has to have 300 square feet of accessible and secure space.
Lilliane Nolan, chief administrative officer at the Municipality of Whitestone, said what’s currently available in town doesn’t suit Canada Post criteria.
“They need a permanent place for it and the municipality doesn’t have any space. We’re hoping somebody from the community will come forward,” said Nolan. “Canada Post has certain requirements to run a post office, and nobody has come forward and said, ‘I can supply that service.’”
In February, roughly 60 people gathered at the Whitestone council meeting to get information on the issue and to show support for keeping the post office. A petition was circulated and sent to government representatives including MP Tony Clement.
Eugene Knapik, spokesperson at Canada Post, said the community won’t necessarily be losing the post office.
“We haven’t made the decision to close the post office at Dunchurch at this time, it’s a possibility. We need to have somebody with a location,” Knapik said.
Despite the uncertainty around the potential office closing, Canada Post will be building the community mailboxes in the very near future.
“We’re going to be installing community mailboxes whether or not we use them. In the event we do find we have to close we cant install in the middle of winter. So we’re going to install some and we’re hoping to continue to operate a post office there,” said Knapik.
In the meantime, many in Dunchurch are hoping someone with an appropriate location will step forward to take up the position.
“A lot of people here don’t have computers. They don’t correspond with email. They still stick with writing a letter or getting a card and all that good stuff. Where would you do that? I don’t know,” Green said.