Britannia Beach losing its full-service post office | Squamish Chief

Britannia Beach losing its full-service post office

Developer says it was a prudent business decision; Britannia Mine Museum finalizing negotiations with Canada Post to provide partial replacement service

Britannia Beach is losing its full-service post office.

The office will be shut as of Jan. 15, according to Macdonald Development Corporation, the company behind Britannia Oceanfront Development Corporation, which is responsible for the the Britannia Beach Post Office.

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Originally, the office was to close on Nov. 30, but after residents expressed dismay at losing it before Christmas, the date was postponed to the new year.

The current outlet at 60 Copper Drive has been operating since October 1981, according to Canada Post.

Canada Post told The Chief it was advised by the operators of the Britannia Beach Post Office, which is a franchise postal outlet, they were terminating their contract.

"Canada Post is currently working to find a new location in the area. As we are in the preliminary stages, we are not yet able to speak further about our plans. We anticipate no interruption in postal services to the residents of Britannia Beach and will provide updates to our customers as soon as they become available," an emailed statement from the federal Crown corporation reads.

A spokesperson for Britannia Mine Museum, however, acknowledged it is currently finalizing negotiations with Canada Post to provide a “parcel pick-up” service for Britannia residents as a replacement. Residents will also be able to buy stamps and the odd envelope/packaging from the gift shop.

Further details will be forthcoming, the spokesperson said.

A few residents originally reached out to The Chief upset at the loss of the post office, but retracted their statements once news of the Britannia Mine option spread through the community.

According to the Macdonald Development Corporation, the plan was always to eventually shut the current post office for a time, as it is in a heritage building that has to be moved to make way for the mixed residential and commercial project, but the decision has since been made to close it permanently for financial reasons.

"What we have to move is the old market, the community hall and the post office to start the flood protection," Bill Baker of Macdonald Development Corporation told The Chief.

"[The post office] was going to be closed for two years anyway, because there wasn't any place to put it."

He said the development corporation is working with Canada Post to ensure local delivery to temporary boxes until permanent new mailboxes are made.

But maintaining a full-service postal outlet was too costly for the development company, long term.

"We've subsidized the post office for the last two or three years for quite a substantial amount of money," Baker said, adding the revenue from a post office is minimal.

The company pays for the labour and would have to forgo the rents in a new location once the development is built, he said.

"When we go to reopen, we aren't going to reopen the post office. It will remain closed,” said Baker. “For the amount of subsidy it will incur, and it is considerable, it is not fair to pass that on to the local merchants."

When the community is up and running, the community has to support itself and thus the post office is not sustainable, he said.

SLRD board chair and Area D representative Tony Rainbow said a post office has existed in some form in Britannia for about 100 years.

The reality is many small communities can't afford to keep a full post office, he said, adding that he lives in Furry Creek, which also doesn't have one.

"There will continue to be post," he noted.

For services not available in Britannia, residents will travel to Squamish.

Rainbow said the real problem is how long it is taking for the development project to get underway, due to delays at the provincial level.

"I hope that with the announcement of the election, we might get some movement from the province," he said. "It is entirely down to the province right now to issue the permits to allow this project to go forward. It is very frustrating. The SLRD — we've done everything we can — and we are still spending staff time communicating with the province and trying to get them to move quickly so that they can get moving on it."

Once approvals come through, then things will move pretty quickly, he said, allowing the community to see more benefits from the project.

Baker agrees. The project's environmental review, in particular, needs to be approved by the province.

"As soon as they say yes, the SLRD has all the stuff ready to go," he said. "Everything is done.... We have been ready to go for two years."

The Chief contacted the provincial Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy as well as the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations to ask what the hold up was. In response, a government representative wrote back:

"During the election period, all Government of B.C. communications are limited to health and public safety information, as well as statutory requirements. We can direct you to information already publicly available. Thank you for your understanding."

The provincial election was called on Monday and will take place Oct. 24.

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