As Canada Post struggles, small towns worry about future mail service

REGINA – Top brass at Canada Post are trying to find solutions to the company’s problems.

They were in Regina this week, seeking input from various groups, including small communities.

It’s in those centres that a post office is part of many daily routines.

“People come in from (outside of town), all over Lumsden,” Reggie Newkirk said outside that town’s post office. “You get to meet people, talk to them, that sort of thing.”

Others tend to agree, saying it’s the heart of town.

But in a digital age, they’re a dying breed – a reality Canada Post is coming to terms with.

“People understand things have to change,” said John Farnand, a company executive. “The fact is we’ve lost one billion pieces of letter mail from 2006 to 2012.”

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The crown corporation has already overhauled its sorting and processing centres, but in the second quarter alone, Canada Post lost $104-million. A recent report shows that could be $1-billion by 2020.

The Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) is weighing in, stressing the importance of rural mail service.

The group says any cutbacks in small towns should be a last resort.

“At some degree, where is their responsibility?” asked David Marit, SARM president. “My concern is, ‘How far are we expected to travel for services?'”

In Lumsden, there’s no immediate worry about the post office closing, however people there are fully aware of what could happen if it did.

“People come every day to get their mail, so that means they go to the grocery store, the restaurants,” said Lumsden mayor Bryan Matheson. “It would be a big loss to the community.”

Changes recommended to Canada Post include fewer delivery days and more retail locations instead of standalone post offices.

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