Residents living in the small Similkameen recreational communities of Tulameen and Coalmont B.C., say they’ve been without mail delivery service for more than two weeks.
Marjorie Brewer, who has lived in Tulameen, approximately 27 kilometres northwest of the Town of Princeton, calls the ongoing lack of postal service shocking.
“It’s just appalling,” she told Global News on Thursday.
There are about 250 permanent residents living in Tulameen and 85 people live in the neighbouring village of Coalmont. The population increases during the summer months but year-round residents are largely retirees.
“There are a lot of residents here who I have been talking to who don’t do email billing so they are waiting for their bills, they haven’t got them yet, and they’re worried about paying overdue fees,” Brewer said.
Brewer, who has resided in the community since 1976, said she filed a complaint with Canada Post on Monday.
The next day, she said she received a call from regional manager Mitch Hammer who informed her that the corporation is struggling to locate a new rural mail carrier to service the area after a previous employee went on medical leave.
“He said that he has been looking for someone to replace the mail carrier since Christmas and he hasn’t been able to find anybody and he’s saying that we would get weekly mail, weather permitting. I just don’t think that weekly mail is acceptable,” she said.
Brewer said she’s received a notification that a parcel is available for pickup in Princeton, which is a 30 minute commute along a narrow and snow-covered mountainside road.
The lack of postal service is also impacting businesses. Kelly Reichert owns a motorsports store in Tulameen.
“We are not receiving cheques for people paying on accounts and we are having trouble shipping out some parts and paying bills, we just can’t run to town every day to make the payments,” she said.
Reichert questions why Canada Post did not notify residents and businesses of the service disruptions.
” It was some of us phoning in and saying ‘what’s going on.'”
“Residents are outraged to say the least,” said another local resident, George Mapson.
“Residents have difficulty driving the 25 km to Princeton to get their mail. Their mail is not being sorted on a regular basis, so going to Princeton is not a good idea,” he said in an email.
“Finding a carrier brave enough to navigate poorly maintained roads in winter to deliver mail is another challenge still waiting for a solution.”
In mid-December, roads weren’t cleared of snow in Tulameen and Coalmont for at least four days following a series of snow storms, prompting pubic safety concerns.
The new road maintenance contractor for the region, AIM Roads, blamed the lack of snow removal services on equipment failures.
Mapson said the remote nature of the service delivery area may create a barrier to Canada Post finding a new mail carrier.
Canada Post confirmed that the delivery delays are as a result of “recent unexpected staffing challenges specific to this area,” according to a statement issued to Global News.
Spokesperson Valérie Chartrand said the postal operator is calling in additional resources to help sort and deliver mail while recruiting delivery agents.
“We are doing our best to ensure that mail is delivered to these customers. These temporary measures will remain in place until this issue has been resolved, and normal delivery is resumed,” Chartrand said.
“We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience, and thank residents for their patience.”