The Fight to Save a Local Post Office
I learned about the threat on Oct. 10th while out walking my dog, when I bumped into local BIA executive director Anna-Louise Richardson. Wielding a clipboard and petition, she was clearly on a mission as she explained Canada Post wanted to close the neighbourhood postal outlet in the Grand Bargain convenience store at 2938 Dundas Street West.
On Oct. 7th, the store's owner, Man Gi Ju had been served notice that outlet he ran at the back of his store would be closed at the end of the month. Canada Post was revamping its image, the crown corporation's local representative told him, and changes to counters and layout meant his store no longer fit the bill. The location had housed a post office for 17 years. Residents would instead now travel up to Shoppers Drug Mart at Keele and St. Clair for postal services.
It seems Canada Post may have underestimated those residents, and Ju.
My not so-latent hippie tendencies kicked in immediately when Richardson asked me to sign the petition she was brandishing. So did my instinct to protect a symbol of community and an essential service in my neighbourhood. Apparently I was far from the only one.
Ju plastered his front window with neon signs and set up a petition table in front of his store, asking for support. Flyers went in mailboxes of nearby homes telling residents where to call to voice their concern, including local MP Gerard Kennedy`s office and Canada Post customer service. Other businesses put up posters and also gathered names for the petition.
My own call to Canada Post had the first person I spoke with encourage me to stand up and be heard, and the second person tell me the closure was a done deal and there was nothing I could do. Maybe not me alone, but...
Within four days, 2,000 people had signed the petition and by Oct. 15, there were 3,000 names on the list. Ju gave the petition to Kennedy, who according to the MP`s constituency office scheduled a meeting with Canada Post later that week. Ju says there were 4,500 signatures on the petition in 10 days.
And so it was that on Oct. 21, Canada Post`s local representative again paid Ju a visit, this time with a new five-year contract for him to sign. Please, no more fighting, he told Ju.
This past weekend new signs went up in Ju's window, thanking everyone for their support. The table in front of the store was there. Now it was laden with baked sweets, a gesture of gratitude to the community from Ju, who came to Canada from Korea in 1995.
"I'm very glad for you," one customer and resident of nearby Quebec Avenue told him with a big smile as together they sorted their way through the mailing of a big yellow padded envelope and several letters on Saturday.
Ju signed the new contract the day after it was delivered. It requires him to put in a new computer system next year and to undergo renovations he will have to pay for himself.
Even though the whole experience has left a bitter taste in his mouth for the way he was treated by Canada Post when he received the closure notice, he is clearly buoyed by the way local residents rallied around the situation.
"I like Canada," he says. "This is my dream country."
Writing and photo by Linda O. Nagy
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