Canada Post's downtown Yellowknife post office on September 21, 2023. Emily Blake/Cabin Radio
Yellowknife residents walking downtown this week have likely noticed the street in front of the post office looks different.
Raised planters that long occupied the area have been removed as part of renovations to the building, owned since 2009 by 6133 NWT Ltd, a partnership between Denendeh Investments and JV Developments.
Sandra McDaniel – vice-president of JV Developments, a Yellowknife-based real estate development company – told Cabin Radio the change was made at the request of Canada Post.
“Personally, I consider the front post office to be the village green,” McDaniel said, “but it was felt that not having people just sort-of hanging around there might be better.”
“It’s not really something that a lot of us really wanted to do, because we know that it’s a place where a person can sit, run into people they know, and watch the world go by,” she added.
“But it was a respect issue, too, you know? People just would not step up and leave it tidy.”
In an email to Cabin Radio, Canada Post spokesperson Janick Cormier wrote: “We understand the concerns, however Canada Post leases this facility and does not own the flower beds outside of the building. These belong to the leaseholder.”
The planters, broad enough for people to use them as seating, served as a gathering-place for residents from all walks of life, including people experiencing homelessness. There are few other public seating areas downtown.
At the time, the city said Denendeh Investments had requested the benches’ removal and 6133 NWT Ltd, in a press release, said it had received complaints from tenants regarding public drinking, harassment, and people using the property as a washroom.
The move led some residents to hold a sit-in outside the building, arguing the removal of the benches was cruel to people experiencing homelessness.
McDaniel said the area where the planters were located will be tidied as part of ongoing renovation work. In the summertime, she said, people may be able to use the space to set up booths or stage other activities.
“There’ll be room to do things now with the space that we didn’t have before,” she said.