LITTLE CURRENT—Last Thursday evening at a special meeting of the Northeast Town council, council passed a motion directing town staff to enter into a lease agreement with Canada Post, ensuring that Little Current’s post office will remain in its downtown location.
This decision comes after months of in camera discussions and negotiations between the town and Canada Post regarding their lease at the post office’s current Little Current location on Water Street and the ‘Let it Be!’ campaign this summer conducted by the Little Current Business Improvement Area (BIA), (the organization representing the downtown merchants) that supported keeping the post office downtown as an important business anchor.
“Our primary reason for accepting this offer is because of the downtown businesses,” Mayor Joe Chapman explained after the meeting. “The rent has been increased substantially and a number of other factors, such as using less space, will lead to a $20,000 annual increase in profit for the town, as opposed to the $30,000 we were losing on the agreement in the past.”
The motion for staff to enter into the lease agreement with Canada Post was unanimously supported by all councillors present at the meeting, with the exception of Mayor Chapman who voted against the motion.
Mayor Chapman explained to The Expositor that his reason for voting against the motion was his feelings that the town should be better compensated for the rent of the building (which it acquired about 20 years ago from Public Works Canada).
“My personal view is that we should ask for more (rent), but this issue needs to get settled for the downtown businesses and at least we won’t be losing money on the agreement moving forward,” said Mayor Chapman.
As for the changes to the current space that the Little Current post office occupies, the extra space could be utilized for the Northeast Town offices
“The town is tight for office space and the additional space made available at the Post Office would be used by the town for more offices or possible a board room, but right now we are just focused on finalizing the agreement with Canada Post,” concluded Mayor Chapman.
A huge push factor in the negotiations to keep the post office at its current location in downtown Little Current was the Little Current BIA and its ‘Let It Be!’ campaign— a postcard petition, poster and button campaign to focus public awareness on keeping the post office in Little Current’s downtown, an element that the downtown merchants feel is critical to the sustainability of Little Current’s downtown businesses.
“We have received back 1,000 of the post cards from the campaign,” shared BIA president Debby Turner on Monday, “and more are coming in everyday. We are so thankful for the support of the community and from council on this matter. We are very happy that council is in the final stages of negotiations with Canada Post and that the post office will be staying in its current location.”
Ms. Turner also stated that she would be attending this Tuesday’s (September 4) council meeting to present the mayor and councillors with buttons from the ‘Let It Be!’ campaign in thanks for their efforts during the negotiations, as well as to formally present the 1,000-plus postcards supporting the downtown post office location.
This past spring, Canada Post’s lease with the Northeast Town came to an end leading the town to grant Canada Post a six-month extension on their lease as the two parties attempted to renegotiate the agreement.
Problems with the past lease agreement included the rent amount, the requirement of town-paid cleaning services and an environmental clause which would have seen the municipality responsible for all costs associated with moving Canada Post and setting the postal operation up in a different location if an environmental hazard were to be discovered in the existing building during the term of the lease.
The town was also upset that the past lease agreement had been losing the municipality upwards of $30,000 annually because of cleaning fees, heating, painting and renovations.
Rumours that the Northeast Town and Canada Post could not reach a decision left the BIA and a number of other community members concerned that could an agreement not be reached, Canada Post would move their Little Current downtown location off the front street, leading to a loss of business for downtown merchants.
Council’s decision last Thursday night has been well received by the BIA and is expected to be finalized by Canada Post this week.