Canada Post presents Erin council with vision for future

·3 min read

Canada Post has developed a plan to confront climate change, promote better access to expanded services and provide financial services to those without banks.

Erin council listened to a report by Derek Richmond, Ontario regional co-ordinator for the Canadian United Postal Workers (CUPW), to learn about how the postal operator will make the most of its existing public service network as traditional mail service continues to decline.

Council received it for information.

“Certainly, it’s a different concept of what I think about a postal service, but having travelled most of the world, I have seen some of the things you talked about at the post offices,” said Mayor Allan Alls.

Through the delivering community power program, Canada Post will install charging stations for electric vehicles at post offices, have a renewable energy postal fleet, provide postal banking to give inclusive financial services to those underserved by commercial banks, such as in rural and many Indigenous communities, and have door-to-door mail carriers check in on seniors and people with mobility issues, keeping more people in their own homes for longer.

Some councillors, however, questioned the demand for such in-person services.

“The need for the post office, in letter carrying, is reducing dramatically, and I think it requires a transformation,” said Coun. Michael Robins

Coun. Rob Smith said he sees banks eliminating cash in the future transition to a cashless system. He thinks a physical outlet wouldn’t have much of a demand. He also said they’d completed paperwork, certifications and licences online, moving away from attending physical buildings.

“You have a lot of municipalities, especially in rural communities that don’t have access to broadband and safe, secure internet to do those services," said Richmond.

“There are a lot of seniors, including my mother, who don’t know how to use a computer properly. These are just additional services at a post office we already maintain. The infrastructure and workers are already there. They are just trained to provide additional support and resources at these post offices.”

Canada Post states it has the largest public vehicle fleet in the country. Infrastructure funding and wise investment from its profits could add to the nationwide electric vehicle charging network supporting a general shift to low-carbon vehicles.

Coun. John Brennan wanted an idea of where the postal service is with their electric vehicles.

“We have approximately 13,000 postal vehicles in urban areas we use to deliver mail daily,” said Richmond. “On a yearly basis, we have approximately sold about 1,000 of them, and we’re trying to get, in different strategies through governments to implement 1,000 electric vehicles a year.”

Canada Post says it has 6,300 post offices, compared with Tim Hortons' 4,613 locations. Post offices may be retrofitted to be community hubs for digital access and social innovation, connecting communities and climate-friendly businesses to customers and consolidated last-mile delivery service that eases congestion in urban centres and reduces the environmental impact of our cities.

This could create local jobs, support apprenticeships and inspire communities to take further action on energy and resource conservation, the postal service said.

It also plans to offer financial services similar to those provided by many other postal agencies worldwide. Postal Banking would bring in revenue and provide an alternative to payday loans, the agency said, as well as supporting local businesses and ensuring financial access for those underserved by traditional banks.

Joshua Santos, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Orangeville Banner