Canada Post owes just under $30,000 in rent to the Merville General Store, a small retail outlet that has served a tiny community in the Comox Valley for almost a century.
The general store is many things to the unincorporated community of Merville, population 2,240 in the 2016 Census.
It’s where residents buy groceries, alcohol, tobacco, lottery tickets and there’s even a small restaurant, owner Chris Ellis told Global News.
The store also hosts a Canada Post outlet — one that could soon be in jeopardy.
The Crown corporation is charged base rent of $210 to locate there, and Ellis said it hasn’t paid that money since October 2013. That was 53 months ago.
“Their statement from our accounting department is now just a hair under $30,000,” Ellis said.
Ellis sent Canada Post a demand letter in July 2017, asking it to pay up within two weeks or else he would raise the rent to $1,500.
The Crown agency offered a settlement of about $6,800, Ellis said — about a quarter of what he said he was owed.
“It was very low, and at that time, the balance was over $20,000,” he said.
In a statement, Canada Post said, “we are looking into the situation and have no further comment at this time.”
Merville’s General Store could find it difficult to stay up and running, should the situation carry on as it has.
Residents hope Canada Post can stay open there, so they can avoid a nearly 20-minute trip down the road to pick up their letters and packages.
“It’s going to add extra to our fuel bill,” said one general store shopper.
Ellis said he’s willing to settle for $25,000 and sign a new lease, with a newly-agreed-upon rate.
“That’s all I’m asking for,” he said.
“I don’t even want the full $29,000. I’ll take a settlement but they’re not even willing to negotiate.”