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The long and winding wait

Canada Post leaves Yellowknifers out in the cold

NNSL Photo

Yellowknifers wait in line to mail their Christmas goodies to friends and family. The line-ups are longer this year because Canada Post allowed the leases to its postal retail outlets to expire leaving one small post-office for 18,000. - Jorge Barrera/NNSL photo

Jorge Barrera
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Dec 05/01) - The Christmas postal crunch has new meaning for Yellowknifers this year.

The Nov. 30 closure of the city's three retail outlets has left 18,000 people with just one place to pick up and send mail: the main downtown post office. The result has been long lines, some with waits up to 40 minutes, snaking through the post office foyer and even out into -25C temperatures.

Crown corporation officials called the situation unfortunate, but refused to apologize for the inconvenience.

"There is no apology planned to my knowledge," said John Caines, manager of national media relations for Canada Post.

"There is (one) outlet to service them now to improve a negative situation."

On Nov. 30, leases at Shell, Reddi Mart and Weaver and Devore expired. None of the businesses were able to meet Canada Posts new regulations to renew their leases.

Caines said the corporation had hoped to have replacement outlets open at Shoppers Drug Mart and the Co-op by now but negotiations failed. They won't be open until January.

"You go into these situations looking for the best-case scenario," said Caines.

" The fact is, it is an unfortunate situation."

40-minute wait

People waiting in long lines dont share his view. On Tuesday, Roy Kaiser waited 40 minutes to mail four packages.

"You cant fault the employees, but fault the corporation," said the 40-year-old territorial government employee.

Ian Haynet didn't know Shell closed down its outlet until he went to mail a package recently.

"It's kind of an inconvenience," said the 26-year-old helicopter pilot.

Yellowknifer was unable to speak with MP Ethel Blondin-Andrew, but a spokesperson said she planned to meet with Public Works Minister Alfonso Gagliano sometime this week.

Alliance Party public works critic, MP Peter Goldring said Canada Post performed a major disservice to the citizens of Yellowknife.

"I would certainly expect them to apologize, especially if these leases lapsed and they had no plan B," said Goldring, MP from Edmonton Center-East. "It is a very careless way to deal with a responsibility."

"My understanding is that now you have service to 18,000 in one office. Your period between dawn and darkness is some three hours and very low temperatures.

" Thats an extraordinary circumstance and if (Canada Post bureaucrats) experienced that themselves they would have more compassion," said Goldring.

Caines said Canada Post has extended its hours to 8 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. during the Christmas rush.

It also has a line exclusively for parcel pick-ups.