Restore airmail to islands: Martin

Queen Charlotte Mayor Greg Martin hopes the new federal government will institute some long-overdue airmail to the islands

Queen Charlotte Mayor Greg Martin hopes the new federal government will institute some long-overdue change when it comes to the postal service for Haida Gwaii.

In a recent council meeting Mr. Martin expressed frustration with Canada Post’s use of BC Ferries over Air Canada’s previous agreement to fly the mail to and from Haida Gwaii daily.

Since 2008 the switch to a ground-delivery system, trucking it to Prince Rupert and then shipping it via B.C. Ferries to Haida Gwaii, has cause a substantial delay in the delivery of mail with many residents claiming they regularly get their bills well after their payment due date. Mr. Martin is not the first municipal leader to ask for the reinstatement of Canada Post’s airmail.

“It is a government service and they have dropped the ball,” Mr. Martin said. He has been writing letters to Judy Foote, the minister entrusted with Canada Post operations, but the last response came from the minister’s desk was less than helpful, he said.

“I don’t think she even saw this letter.”

In Mr. Martin’s request, he congratulated her on her re-election and explained the situation faced by Haida Gwaii when it comes to receiving mail on a timely basis. He also suggested the use of Pacific Coastal Airlines to facilitate better service.

In her response Minister Judy Foote explained that as a Crown corporation, Canada Post operates at arms length from the federal government. She then stated she would forward Mr. Martin’s letter to Canada Post.

At the Union of B.C. Municipalities conference last September, Mr. Martin and other village councillors and staff met with Canada Post’s manager and municipal engagement officer, Tim McGurrin, with whom Mr. Martin has since been in contact. He’s suggesting if Canada post and Air Canada cannot come to agreement, Canada Post has other options other than B.C. Ferries.

According to Mr. Martin, Mr. McGurrin has spoken with Canada Post’s Network Transportation team about the idea of using Pacific Coastal Airlines. “We’ll be happy to consider them when the business (contract) is re-tendered,” Mr McGurrin said in his email.

As for an exact date when the contract with B.C Ferries will be re-tendered  Mr. McGurrin and staff did not have a set timeframe for re-tendering. Mr. McGurrin said it depends on a multitude of factors, including the ability to meet Canada Post’s mail delivery standards and their overall satisfaction with the road/ferry service already being offered.

While Canada Post has not changed their mail delivery system, they have been using Pacific Coastal Airlines several times a month to ensure that social assistance cheques are delivered on time.