Bentley deserves better: residents rally over postal service lost
Over 100 Bentley and area residents rallied outside the local post office on Monday, May 28 over retail postal service loss. Residents are expected to now pick up their parcels in Lacombe, rather than receive them within the community. (Ashli Barrett/Lacombe Globe)
Over 100 Bentley residents spent Monday’s lunch hour outside of the local post office in protest over the sudden loss of Canada Post services.
In response to Canada Post’s decision to offer less service by June 1, local area superintendent Scott Cloarec distributed a letter informing the community retail services will no longer be available at the Bentley IDA Post Office.
That was just two weeks ago. Immediately after, parcel delivery ceased, with the rest of services expected to be pulled this Friday – a move the town isn’t happy with.
About 10 per cent of residents showed up to the rally hoping to save postal services. Several times they began chanting “Bentley deserves better,” concerned about the impact the decision could have on the community.
“Something like this could destroy our town,” said Bentley Mayor Greg Rathjen.
The small town community of about 1,100 residents has been affected by the recent development of a highway bypass, with fewer people heading into town. Despite that, there is still a dental clinic, doctor’s office and a specialty meat shop is in the process of opening up – services other small towns don’t have.
That could change if they lose retail postal services, which as of now are being moved into Lacombe, where parcel delivery has already been rerouted, forcing residents to make the 24-kilometre trek for postal services.
In a release issued Monday afternoon, Red Deer- Lacombe MP Blaine Calkins issued a statement on the matter.
“This is a terrible situation,” he said. “The residents of Bentley were given very little notice of this change in service and have had no opportunity to fully explore other possible options to retain retail postal services.
“Asking residents to drive 50 km to pick up or drop off parcels is ludicrous and violates the Canadian Postal Service Charter. We have seniors in Bentley who either don’t drive or are on a fixed income. It is unreasonable to make this request of them.”
Calkins wrote to Public Services and Procurement Minister Carla Qualtrough requesting her direct intervention into the discontinuation of retail postal services in the community.
A copy of the letter was posted to his Facebook page, where he draws attention to areas where the closure appears to contravene the Canadian Postal Charter, including Convenient Access to Postal Services, section 10, which states: “Canada Post will provide retail postal outlets, including both corporate post offices and private dealer operated outlets which are convenient locally and operated so that: 98 per cent of consumers will have a postal outlet within 15 km; 88 per cent of consumers will have a postal outlet within 5 km; and 78 per cent of consumers will have a postal outlet within 2.5 km.”
Current parcel delivery, which has been routed to the City of Lacombe, would be 24 kilometres away, meaning Bentley residents will not be within the parameters. The Town of Rimbey would also be 24 kilometres away, while Sylvan Lake would be slightly closer at 20 kilometres away.
On Tuesday, Rathjen met with a regional representative for Canada Post with the hope to find an alternative solution.
As of Wednesday, he said Canada Post acknowledges cutting retail postal services in Bentley would leave residents outside of the parameters set by the charter, but maintains they have no other choice.
The IDA which has the postal contract is losing money because of it, and therefore had to back out. It’s doubtful another business will take it on, and while residents would like a corporate post office restored, Canada Post says they’re prohibited from doing so.
Rathjen disputes that’s true.
In the meantime, the regional representative is looking into delaying the closure of postal services, but there’s no guarantee it will happen.
“I’m hopeful,” Rathjen said.
“We have things happening here. We don’t need to lose our postal service.”