Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Culture: Junction Post Office Saved

TORONTO, ONTARIO - I am ashamed to admit that in this post, I neglected to talk about the most surprising thing I learned at that community meeting event. Canada Post had told Man Gi Ju that they were pulling the post office from his store in The Junction neighbourhood of Toronto and moving it across the railroad tracks to a near-by Shoppers Drug Mart in a line of big box stores. Ju was at the meeting describing his situation and collecting signatures on his petition for Canada Post to reverse the decision.

While Ju's post office is not my home branch and in fact is one that I have not used, I signed the petition after listening to residents speak on Ju's behalf at that meeting. I appreciate The Junction as a neighbourhood, and it is entirely possible that I may someday live closer to it and want full facilities available--the last thing I would want to do is walk over to St. Clair and its Wal-Marts and Office Depots in order to get postal services. As one community activist put it, "Canada Post is doing exactly the opposite of what is happening in the neighbourhood--increased livability and more locally-owned stores."

By the time I thought to write about this again last week, I found out that the crisis was over--public pressure had already resulted in Canada Post doing a complete reversal and offering Ju a new five-year contract. The whole situation has now been well-summarized in this post on BlogTO. It seems clear enough that Canada Post backed off to avoid some very bad publicity.

Torontonians--and I suspect Canadians in general--are very good at this kind of neighbourhood-level pressure. I can't say I was surprised to find out I was behind the curve in reporting on this situation as someone from outside the neighbourhood, and that it had been resolved to the neighbourhood's satisfaction, at least as expressed by its Business Improvement Area staff. Member of Provincial Parliament Rosario Marchese mentioned last night that he was amazed at how organized condominium owners had become in his riding--a recent meeting had 180 of 200 condos represented. People may live in condominiums designed to keep out the world--and even their neighbours--but they still form communities.

It's no wonder so many Canadians liked Barack Obama--we understand community organizers and seem to know how to push them and subsequently follow them. On that, many United States residents have a lot to learn.

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