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Iqaluit post office moves overflow to warehouse

One customer at the new Canada Post package pick-up outlet called the staff there "Santa's elves" Dec. 5.

"That's what they are, Santa's elves," agreed her friend.

On Dec. 5 Canada Post moved its previous satellite location from House 760, seen here flooded with Amazon parcels well past the Christmas season into January 2017. The new location is at 1057 Mivvik Street.

It's hard to dispute the feeling staff are providing a magical service to Iqalungmiut as Christmas approaches. But the reality is, heading into Christmas, Canada Post is overwhelmed with packages, and magic doesn't have anything to do with the solutions.

The national mail carrier made a permanent move from its second outlet, House 760, to a warehouse Dec. 5. The space immediately filled with pallet after pallet of packages, most hidden behind a wall of blue tarps.
Local area manager Sue Browning said Canada Post is doing the best it can to ensure packages get out to residents as quickly and efficiently as possible.

"I can't guess," said Browning about how many packages are processed by her Iqaluit staff of more than 20 on a daily basis. For the Christmas season, she's even brought in some experienced staff from the south, because she just can't find enough staff in Iqaluit.

Browning said she's continuously looking for help.

"We get hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of parcels a day. Sometimes thousands," she said, adding it's all about e-commerce.

"It's not just Iqaluit. It's Canada-wide."

On Dec. 5 Canada Post permanently moved from its previous satellite location at House 760 to its new location at 1057 Mivvik Street, pictured here, at the opposite end of Baffin Gas. Michele LeTourneau/NNSL photo

Across the nation, Canada Post deals with 1.3 million parcels a day.

"E-commerce has changed people's lives, changed people's way of living," said Browning.

Parcel volume continues to increase 17 per cent each year, plus an additional 20 per cent at Christmas. Browning says parcel volume is increasing in the communities outside Iqaluit, as well, but those are sorted and redirected at the airport. All parcels destined for Baffin Island come through the air carriers from Ottawa.

A bad-weather day could cause delays from two to four days, but once the parcels are here in the city, delivered by a local contractor from the carriers to the postal outlet, workers scan and shelve the items.

Browning looks around the new warehouse. She notes all these parcels will be gone in 15 days. That's because customers have 15 days to pick up. (Browning declined to have the back area photographed for privacy reasons.)

"And we'll always have just as many," she said.

"We can get bulked out. We encourage customers to pick up as quickly as they can."

The new location at 1057 Mivvik Street easily holds a dozen or more times what the old location could hold. The main location on Federal Road is also full to the brim. Superintendent Angela Dale makes the decisions about what goes where for pick-up.

Hours are Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and both outlets are open Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. for parcel pick-up during the Christmas season.