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Historical society looks to future of Steveston post office

By Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Published 11:09 PDT, Mon March 29, 2021

The Steveston Historical Society is eagerly awaiting the results of the city’s public engagement survey on future operations of the Steveston Museum.

The building has housed an operational post office for decades. The post office site moved throughout Steveston before finally settling in its current location. 

“That’s what put communities on the map back in the day, was if you had a post office,” says society co-chair Linda Barnes. “So there’s some real history that’s not being used that means a lot to the community.”

Although the site is important historically and locally, the city’s public engagement survey will help indicate what members of the public would like to see going forward. Barnes hopes an update can breathe new life into the site.

“The site itself is very tired, having had the same displays for as long as I can remember—and I’ve been here since 1970,” says Barnes. “It needs to be upgraded and revitalized. The building has always been focused on community and bringing the community in, and so the society developed some fundamentals that we want to see within the building: that it remain a community hub, interactive for the community. Certainly the post office and Tourism Richmond (visitor centre) accomplish that.”

The city has always been committed to keeping the site active, Barnes adds. Since the city owns the museum and property, it is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the buildings, which is a task taken seriously.

“We’re lucky in that respect—things ebb and flow according to budgets and focuses, but I believe (the city is) really wanting to keep this well maintained,” says Barnes. “I don’t believe there’s any chance of it ever meeting a wrecking ball.”

The historical society, which has a volunteer board, holds the contract with Canada Post. Several part-time workers, employed by the society, operate the post office. 

“Operating a (post office) franchise, you are actually operating a business,” Barnes explains. “So you have a volunteer board operating a business, and the post office historically has not been a real moneymaking business, and so the issue has been from the society’s perspective, is it a viable operation financially, and is that the sole focus of what the society should or wants to be doing?”

The business focus may shift in the future, if the site is primarily focused around museum operations. But the contract with Canada Post could be retained, Barnes says, and all current postal services would be able to continue.

“(The society isn’t) in it to make thousands of dollars, but we certainly have to pay all the bills—and that is a struggle,” says Barnes. “Utilizing your local post office is of real importance to us, because it keeps that business and building viable as it currently is.”

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