Bentley Mayor Greg Rathjen is optimistic postal counter service can be saved in the town.
Rathjen met with a regional Canada Post official on Tuesday and made the community’s position clear.
“We told them we’re not going to accept what they’re doing as a town,” said Rathjen.
Canada Post’s representative seemed sympathetic to the community’s concerns and a temporary measure, allowing the counter to stay open and parcel service to be resumed, is being considered until a permanent solution can be found, said the mayor.
“(The meeting) was positive and they’re trying to work it out. There hasn’t been a commitment on anything yet.”
Rathjen said the Canada Post representative agreed there should have been better communication with residents. The community first got wind they would lose counter parcel service only shortly before it happened.
More than 100 people turned out at a rally on Monday to urge Canada Post to continue to provide parcel and counter service in the community of 1,100.
Canada Post is not saying much publicly at this time.
“Once our plans for postal services are determined we will communicate that to the community,” says spokesman Phil Legault in an email on Thursday.
“We apologize for any inconvenience to our customers as we continue to look for a solution.”
Parcels service stopped in mid-May and on Friday counter service, such as weighing packages and selling stamps, was to end. The service was expected to be moved to Lacombe, meaning a nearly 50-km round trip drive for Bentley residents.
Postal counter service had been run out of the local IDA Pharmacy for more than a dozen years, after the corporate Canada Post office closed. Over time, because of the economy and changing nature of people’s postal habits, it was no longer economical for the pharmacy to run the postal business.
Rathjen said the town wants to see the return of a corporate post office, which remain in neighbouring communities, such as Bluffton, Alix, Clive and Mirror.
The community is keeping up the lobby pressure. Rathjen said he is sending a letter appealing for action off to Minister of Public Services and Procurement Carla Qualtrough.
Red Deer-Lacombe MP Blaine Calkins called Bentley’s predicament a “terrible situation” and urged Qualtrain to intervene.
On Thursday, he took to the floor of the House of Commons to raise the issue, saying, “Canada Post has an obligation to provide a standard of postal service that meets the needs of the people of Canada.”
Those needs are not being met if people have to leave their community to pick up or drop parcels, he said.
Qualtrain “must immediately take strong action to right this wrong and restore full postal services in Bentley,” said Calkins.