Emotions run high at meeting to discuss future of Gooderham post office
By Angelica Ingram
Sept. 28, 2016
The residents of Gooderham feel like the heart and soul of their community is being taken away from them by the members of Highlands East council.
It was an emotional evening on Sept. 26 at the Robert McCausland Memorial Community Centre as more than 50 residents came to voice their opinion on council's decision to terminate their dealership agreement with Canada Post.
The decision was made by Highlands East councillors earlier this year and on Sept. 26 Reeve Dave Burton announced a new location for the post office had been selected.
“We've received notification that Canada Post has secured a replacement for the post office, the new Gooderham postal outlet will be located at the Gooderham Lucky Dollar and will be ready to serve you on January 3, 2017,” said Burton.
The reeve went on to say the new location would have expanded hours, serving residents from Monday to Sunday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and that box numbers would be staying the same for residents.
As for the municipal employee who works in the post office, she would not be let go but rather moved to another position for succession planning, said Burton.
“We would like to dispel the rumours that the library is closing. The library is not closing,” said Burton. “The building department is not being moved.”
A representative from Canada Post was supposed to attend the public meeting but could not due to sickness, said Burton.
The meeting was held at the request of a number of Gooderham residents, said Highlands East clerk Irene Cook.
Members of the public didn't waste any time expressing how they felt about council's decision, citing the move a blow to the town of Gooderham.
Chuck Viner, who has been outspoken on the issue for the past few months, said he was part of the council that hired the post mistress 20 years ago.
“I keep reading about how everybody else has their post office in another facility,” said Viner. “What's wrong with us being different? Where is it ingrained in stone that we have to do exactly what everybody else does?”
Viner further added the community of Gooderham gets few services and that the post office is a very important facility for the town.
“When you stop and think of how little, we in this ward get for our tax dollars,” said Viner, who was interrupted by thunderous applause. “I think you're doing us a great disservice.”
Viner said council was elected to represent the community, however they were “doing a bad job.”
Councillor Cam McKenzie said he believed the transition would mean better hours and service for the residents.
Councillor Cec Ryall, whose ward encompasses Gooderham, emphasized throughout the meeting that he was elected to represent all of Glamorgan township and not just Gooderham.
Resident Alf Trotter said his concern was with how the decision was handled by council.
“I think the issue really is we're hearing this after the fact,” he said. “We should have had this meeting six months ago.”
Burton said the initial meeting to discuss the changes was a closed meeting due to the fact staff employment was included.
Council said the decision would equate to a savings of $50,000 a year. The decision comes as a result of pressures and expenses including the new OPP billing model, septic re-inspection and more, said councillors.
Councillor Joan Barton said the municipality was being “royally penalized” by the new OPP billing system and that they “cannot pass all of that increase onto you.”
“We have to make cuts in every ward,” said Barton.
Resident Bev MacDuff questioned what cuts were being made in other parts of the municipality.
“If it's a matter of money, there's other ways to save it, take away benefits for councillors, take away lunches. Brown bag it,” said MacDuff.
Joan Trotter echoed those sentiments, pointing to money spent on the new information centre in Wilberforce, and what she called “wasted money” on developing a plan for Greens Mountain.
“You think you got in because you were the best people, but you got in because there was no other choice,” she said to members of council.
In a heated moment, Ryall reiterated to those in attendance that Glamorgan is not just Gooderham and that he was adamant that the building would not be used for anything other than a post office until a suitable alternative was found.
“Now that we have an alternative location for a post office, now we can start looking at other things that can be done within this area. So is anything else going to be closing in Glamorgan, not if I have anything to do with it,” he said. “I protect Gooderham like anything else ... as you can see I'm as heated about this town as you are. I live here. This is my town.”
Viner said the post office is used by not just Gooderham residents but by many in Glamorgan township.
“You don't know what goes on in our post office and furthermore you don't care,” said Viner. “That's where the problem is.”