Canada Post decision to move main plant to YVR will cost CBD 1,200 jobs but open new future for key building

Canada Post today advised its 1,200 Vancouver employees it has decided to build a new main sorting plant at YVR, opening the door to a new future for the downtown post office building.

The decision reverses a 2009 declaration that the post offie would remain downtown in a refurbished plant in one of the most distinctive buildings in the city core.

When Canada Post designated Vancouver  for renewal under its postal transformation strategy, Mayor Gregor Robertson asked the Vancouver Economic Development Commission to work hard to find an alternative location for these 1,200 well-paid jobs. Nothing was available that met Canada Post’s requirements within city limits.

That means Richmond and YVR will be the recipients of a major new investment, strategically located next to a key air transport hub.

Ironically, the existing Canada Post building includes a tunnel to the Canadian Pacific railway station — intended to link with transcontinental express trains — that was never used because of the development of air mail.

Could the post office building become a new art gallery? Many have raised the possibliity, but that would require involvement both by VAG, now looking at the old bus depot site nearby, and Ottawa, which must also reckon with the claims of the Musqueam and Squamish First Nations.

There are no doubt many new uses for the existing building that will generate jobs and economic activity, but whether a new direction can be plotted by 2015, when Canada Post wants to move, remains to be seen.