It might have been only a small town in the middle of a quiet summer day, but the heart and soul of Bentley was clearly evident as people lined main street with huge signs with slogans such as Bentley matters and Save Our Post office.
The rally to protest the closure of Canada Post counter services in Bentley attracted about 10 per cent of the town of about 1,100 as well as postmasters from other small towns including Xan Moffatt-Toews from Fairview, who is president of the Canadian Postmasters and Associates Associations.
Moffatt-Toews said she has never heard of Bentley before she learned of the move to eliminate the postal counter service, but she was happy to get immediately on board to help out.
Also in attendance were postmasters Michelle Brousseau from Veteran, Gerry Henry from Warner, Linden Wentzloff from Canmore and Jackie Strong from Carstairs.
Moffatt-Toews urged those in attendance to use their voice and speak out against the proposed change.
“It is all small businesses here, they can’t close their business and go to Lacombe, many of them are one-man operations.”
“There is no Walmart of Canadian Tire here,” added Jackie Strong.
Mayor Greg Rathjen encouraged the people not to turn the situation into a negative one.
“We’re not beating the system, we’re correcting it,” he said. “They (Canada Post) are not the enemy.”
June Norvila, who lives outside of Bentley, spoke out against the extra traveling time required to go to Lacombe.
“I want to mail my grandchildren who live in Saskatchewan birthday presents from here,” she said. “It takes extra days (to get there) and extra traveling to from Lacombe.”
Someone in the crowd said a representative from Canada Post should be there, but Moffatt-Toews explained the postmasters in attendance all worked for Canada Post and were part of CPAA.
The mayor said he was speaking with a representative from Canada Post tomorrow and he is hoping for positive results.
“Unless there’s a miracle between now and Friday we’re going to have to go to Lacombe,” he said.
Blaine Calkins, MP Red Deer – Lacombe issued the following regarding the discontinuation of retail postal services in the Town of Bentley.
“This is a terrible situation,” said Calkins. The residents of Bentley were given very little notice of this change in service and have had no opportunity to fully explore other possible options to retain retail postal services.
Asking residents to drive 50km to pick up or drop off parcels is ludicrous and violates and Canadian Postal Service Charter. We have seniors in Bentley who either don’t drive or are on a fixed income, it is unreasonable to make this request of them.”
MP Calkins has written to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, requesting her direct intervention into this situation.