Snail mail picks up the pace

“We’ve had some problems in Iqaluit, but we’ve addressed this”


Gone are the days in Iqaluit when you wouldn’t see any mail in your postal box before noon and you would wait for ages simply to pick up a parcel or mail a letter.

Now, there’s a team of four mail sorters who arrive at the post office around 4 a.m. to make sure all your mail is sorted by 8 a.m.

Packages are routinely delivered to households every evening, and, since last week, an expanded counter area means two postal workers are on hand during the peak hours at noon and after 4 p.m. to serve customers.

This revamp of the post office is also accompanied by a new mini-boutique featuring cards and Canada Post products.

It’s all part of Nunavut manager Ron Kingsley’s intention to provide the same quality of service in Iqaluit as in the South.

“We’ve had some problems in Iqaluit, but we’ve addressed this,” Kingsley said.

Kingsley has been in Iqaluit since last summer, fresh from Guelph, Ont., which has the largest letter-sorting facility in Canada.

Under his management, the back of Iqaluit’s post office – the part of the operation most members of the public never see – has been reorganized, so that there’s a “continuous flow” of mail in and out.

This means there’s no clutter and no backups of mail – and it’s supposed to add up to better service up front for customers as well.

George Corcoran, the regional general manager for Canada Post, who was in Iqaluit for the opening of the post office’s new boutique, said he wants to make sure Nunavut’s postal system grows in the right way.

If its growth follows that of the Northwest Territories, Nunavut may someday have its own postal facility to serve the region, as Yellowknife now has.

But even the current improvements are a relief to Nick Newberry, a long-time resident of Iqaluit and critic of the post office’s service.

“We’ve had a rinky-dink post office for years and it was fine because we were a little town and there was no pressure. With the expansion and the capitalization, it caught up with us and our little post-office wasn’t efficient enough,” he said.

From 1998 on, Newberry said he noted a growing number of problems.

“The lineups were the things that got to everybody,” he said. “Because it’s a government town, we’re all doing it together, at the same time.”

Last year, Newberry finally wrote to the head of Canada Post – twice.

“As a teacher, education comes under a lot of criticism, but we have to make a distinction between the teachers and the system and apply that to the post office,” he said. “I didn’t think the people in the post office weren’t working – we just were not getting service.”

In the boutique area, postcards featuring Newberry’s photos are also now on sale, something he never expected to see.

“They have listened and they have improved, and I think that’s pretty good,” he said.

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