During a city committee meeting last month, councillors supported continuing operations at the historic Steveston post office.
Coun. Harold Steves, the chair of the parks, recreation and cultural services committee, brought forward a referral motion for staff to investigate several updates to the post office and its operations following the current public consultation on re-envisioning the Steveston museum. The focus of the referral motion was on preserving post office operations at what is now the last remaining community post office in the country.
“I really think we should be proud that we have the oldest, longest serving post office in Canada,” said Coun. Linda McPhail.
First established in 1890, the Steveston post office has existed in at least 16 different locations, according to a report presented to committee members by Steves. The current location is its longest-tenured, at 43 years. Steves also notes that the location was operated by volunteers for 41 years before an agreement was made between the Steveston Historical Society and the city in November 2019.
One of the options for a re-envisioned Steveston museum initially involved discontinuing the post office service, but Steves’ referral motion directs staff to investigate amending the options so that both include the operation of a post office. The referral motion also directs staff to look into a $20,000 annual payment being made to the society by the city if and when Tourism Richmond vacates the premises, a living wage being paid to postal workers as auxiliary staff, and reopening the building’s upper floor, which used to serve as a children’s museum.
Loren Slye, the president of the Steveston Historical Society, said it would be beneficial for the building to receive a clear historic designation to avoid having to revisit this concern regularly with the city.
“We’ve tried to work with Canada Post, with Tourism Richmond, with the city, and I agree with Councillor Steves that it would be more pertinent to have it come under the guise of—like the community centre operation—where they’ve got staff that take the burden off the current historic society who are running it for its survival,” said Slye.
City staff advised that external funding options will be explored to support the operations of the museum—including the post office—following the public consultation. Linda Barnes, the co-chair of the Steveston Historical Society, also noted that once the society has a strategic plan, it will continue to apply for grants to implement the ideas and input received from the public.
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