City has no choice on community mail boxes

Decision to end door-to-door delivery means that 10 to 15 postal workers in Campbell River are expected to lose their jobs

Community mailboxes will be coming to Campbell River whether the city wants them or not.

That was the message from Canada Post representatives at Monday night’s council meeting after Coun. Charlie Cornfield tested the waters.

“What if we just don’t want them? Which was my answer to your survey,” Cornfield said, referring to paper and online surveys that Canada Post issued last fall to gauge which type of community mailboxes residents would prefer.

Gilles Chagnon, manager of municipal engagement for Canada Post, said the bottom line is Canada Post has the ability to install the boxes but it wants to work with the city to determine suitable locations for the 270 units that are coming.

Cornfield tried again.

“But not having the boxes is not an option?” he asked.

The response?

“It’s not an option for us, we have to do this.”

Canada Post says Canadians mailed nearly 1.2 billion fewer pieces of mail in 2013 than they did in 2006 and the corporation has suffered financial loss ever since.

But Monica Judd, president of Local 712 of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, challenged that and said Canada Post actually made a profit in the first quarter of 2014 and results from the corporation’s last quarter – the busy Christmas season – have yet to be released.

Judd said the decision to convert the remaining one-third of Canadian homes that still receive home delivery, including 8,543 households in Campbell River, came as a shock.

“This was a blind side on the employees of Canada Post, on the union and on citizens of Canada,” Judd said. “Canada Post is forcing that change on what seems like an attack on workers and their communities.”

Judd said while the city will have input on where Canada Post puts the mailboxes, it’s possible homeowners could end up with a mailbox on the edge of their property.

“It will affect the property value of existing homeowners, these boxes will attract negative attention and negatively affect the homeowner who is unlucky enough to be chosen and approved by you,” Judd told council. “These homeowners will have more traffic, litter, vehicles, less privacy and reduce home values.”

She said the decision to end door-to-door delivery means that 10 to 15 postal workers in Campbell River are expected to lose their jobs, with an additional 13 temporary, or on call workers, being told to look for other work. Brigid Pomeroy told council Monday night she is one of those employees who will be out of a job. She said while she understands it’s not council’s responsibility to fight for her job, it’s bigger than that.

“I know it’s our fight and it’s not the job of councillors to get involved in our labour issue but this is more than a fight for our jobs, it’s also do we want urban junk on our roadways or park boulevards,” Pomeroy said. “Who will pay for the extra costs of sidewalks, street lighting, snow removal and graffiti removal?”

Prior to Pomeroy’s presentation, Chagnon said Canada Post will be responsible for snow and graffiti removal, and acknowledged that the new community mailboxes will be encased in anti-graffiti wrap. Canada Post also has a policy that graffiti will be removed within 48 hours of it being reported.

But beyond the aesthetics, Pomeroy also questioned the logistics of the boxes.

“As letter carriers on the front lines, we know every neighbourhood is unique,” Pomeroy said. “I ask all of you to imagine one street in Campbell River – Alder, from 6th to 5th Avenue. How many super boxes do they plan to install? If you’re on the wrong side of the street you would have to walk up to the next intersection, cross a busy street, and climb halfway up the hill to pick up your mail or your parcel. Look at Evergreen and Merecroft, that’s a long block with very little shoulder on either side. There’s hundreds of streets in Campbell River that if you have a mobility issue, it’s a problem, it’s dangerous. It’s a safety issue.”

Chagnon said those with difficulty getting to their mail are asked to get in touch with Canada Post so that their needs can be accommodated.

“We have a suite of solutions in place,” he said.

Chagnon also said that most Campbell River business who still get door-to-door delivery will retain that service. Of the 964 that get mail delivered to their doors, 91 will convert to a community mailbox. As for residential homes, Chagnon said Canada Post intends to keep residents fully informed of all changes, starting with the homeowner who will have a mailbox adjacent to their property.

“We will visit the homeowner and get feedback directly,” Chagnon said. “We will later tell residents where community mailboxes will be placed.”

The boxes are expected to be installed by the end of September.