General News · 15th September 2019
Christine & Cec
The Whaletown Post Office will be moving from its present location in the spring of 2020, as many of you will have heard. A post office serving the Whaletown community is an essential service and an integral part of supporting community living in the Whaletown area that contributes to the unique character of a Whaletown community, providing community members with a positive & friendly way to meet, develop community bonds, and feel a sense of being home, as do the post offices in Manson’s Landing and Squirrel Cove.
These Frequently Asked Questions prepared by the interim Whaletown Post Office committee will hopefully answer many of the questions or concerns that people may have.
Why Do We Have to Pay $2,000 by September 20th?
We would not have to pay this amount if we could move the Whaletown Post Office by the end of September. But the WCC membership decided that it was important to take the time to make the best decision for the community about the new site. The $2,000 is the difference between the residential and commercial insurance for the property on which the Whaletown Post Office is currently located. The new owners have generously offered a grace period so the community can make this decision together. Any money raised over and above this $2,000 will go towards funding the move of the Whaletown Post Office to its new home.
Why Do We Have to Move the Whaletown Post Office at All? Can’t We Just Drag It Over 10 Feet and Put it on Public Land?
This property is now strictly a residential property and allowing a “commercial enterprise” (as defined by Insurance Companies) on this property means the new owners will have to pay an enormous amount to have even residential insurance. They are supportive of the Whaletown Post Office but have decided not to run the B&B, which means commercial insurance is unnecessary and far too expensive. (This was not an issue before because George Frost needed the commercial insurance for the Sunset B&B.)
It would be great if we could just move it over a bit but there just isn’t enough room for the building or the parking; and Canada Post will not approve that as a site. Canada Post is now involved because the post office has to move. They will not pay for this move but they have said that current Canada Post policy around postal facilities will apply to any new site. They will have to approve the new site, which means it needs adequate parking, potable water, a washroom, heat, lights, and wheelchair accessibility. This hasn’t been necessary before because the Whaletown Post Office has been in the same place for so many years. Up to this point, our Post Office was unofficially “grandfathered,” which meant we enjoyed a lot more latitude around official Canada Post policy about postal facilities.
What Choices Do We Have About Where We Can Move the Post Office?
First Choice: Gorge Community Hall. This site is at the heart of Whaletown and meets the facility standards Canada Post requires.
Second Choice: The Old School House. This site does not meet the facility standards Canada Post requires and would increase the cost of moving a great deal.
Third Choice: Trude's Cafe site. Gorge Harbour Marina has graciously offered an 18-month temporary site, but then the post office would have to be moved again.
Why Won’t Canada Post Pay for the Post Office Move?
The Whaletown Post Office is considered a rural community-based service. Canada Post considers these rural post offices a partnership with the community. This has historically meant that the Postmistress and the community have had to work together, without much help from Canada Post, to provide this valuable service for the benefit of everyone. The Postmistress is a steward of the building and provides a liaison between the community and Canada Post. We have been fortunate over the years to have had many community members volunteer material and labour to keep our Whaletown Post Office running - and it has served our community for over seventy years.
Let’s Talk About Mary Clare
Mary Clare was hired as Postmistress just before this property sold in the summer (it had been on the market for quite a few years). She signed a contract saying that she would provide the premises, which means she pays the rent, Hydro, telephone, basic upkeep, and insurance for the contents and building. To pay for these things, she uses a small stipend provided by Canada Post(1). Aside from this small stipend, which just breaks even in a year if judiciously applied, Mary Claire simply receives an hourly wage for her time, just like any other employee.(2)There is no money left from the stipend, or her wages, to pay for moving the Whaletown Post Office to a new site.
It might seem like Mary Clare is moving in and forcing these changes but that isn’t the case. If the property hadn’t sold, Mary Clare would have been happy to leave the Post Office where it stands. And, while Mary Clare really loves her job at the Whaletown Post Office, moving it is not about her job. Moving it is a way to keep the Whaletown Post Office alive and in service to our community.
Why can’t the Whaletown postal services move to the Manson’s Landing or Squirrel Cove post offices?
For the reasons listed above, but also, there is a significantly lower environmental impact than driving multiple cars across the island for mail pickup, not to mention the lower gas bill, and increased time for families.
Who Can I Talk To About Getting More Involved or If I Have More Questions?
Cec Robinson offered to take the lead on managing the fundraising for the initial $2,000, which will pay for the commercial insurance costs in this interim period through to the spring of 2020. Hubert Havelaar agreed to informally chair the small committee that has formed to help move the post office after a site is decided on. Gabriel Dinim offered to research property lines, road allowances, etc. for the possible site relocation to the Gorge Community Hall. If you want to help with any of these things, or have questions that we haven’t covered here, please email Linda at lindaraepetersgmail.com
1.This stipend is roughly $1700/year and is considered part of Mary Clare’s wages and taxed accordingly.
2. 20.5 hours in a week are considered "Regular Time” hours and are paid at a regular wage; while 7.5 hours in a week are considered “Available Time” hours, which are paid at 1/3 a regular wage.
Cec & Christine Robinson
If a hundred people
Comment by Ian Ross on 16th September 2019
If a hundred and twenty people donated a hundred dollars each, I wonder what that would add up to? Thanks for the info.
Comment by Peter Jackel on 16th September 2019
Thank you, Christine and Cec.
An excellent summing-up - clear, comprehensive, admirably concise.
An example of the Whaletown and Cortes Island spirit you mention in the article.
Comment by Brigid on 16th September 2019
The WCC owns the old schoolhouse building, but the land is still owned by School District 72, so that was probably never an option anyway.
Comment by Bernice on 16th September 2019
The only decision that the WCC itself made at the meeting was a vote to agree in principle that the PO could be placed on its property, dependent on a lot more work being done and more information being gathered. It needs to remain very clear that the WCC is not taking on the stewardship, moving, maintenance etc of the PO.
And a huge thanks to the folks who have agreed to take on the work and info gathering.
Comment by Carole Davidson on 16th September 2019
Thank you for the clarification...I now have a better understanding of the situation and the challenges ahead.
thanks for the info
Comment by arpad on 16th September 2019
nice summary and mahalo to those who came quickly forward to help maintain this invaluable community asset.