MP Rachel Blaney hears concerns about community mailboxes in Campbell River

North Island-Powell River NDP MP Rachel Blaney says she has heard from multiple constituents who have raised significant complaints about community mailboxes.

“Seniors climbing over snow piles, lack of lighting in the early darkness and locks being frozen have been the top complaints,” she said in a press release.

“The Liberals promised to reinstate home delivery, but to this day no word on the services.”

In December, MP Blaney met with CUPW (Canadian Union of Postal Workers) representative Monica Judd to discuss the implementation of community mailboxes (CMBs).

In Campbell River, the hardworking staff have not been given a plan and did not have the proper systems in place for the upcoming winter, according to Blaney’s release.

“According to constituents, Canada Post made no attempt to remove snow around CMBs, nor did they salt the ice,” Judd said in the release. “Some locations reported the area around their boxes to be skating rinks. Crunchy frozen snow, ice, locks freezing are all new winter additions to the plethora of complaints customers already had.”

Not only are these community mailboxes causing problems to the residents of Campbell River, but also to Canada Post workers who are also having difficulties accessing the mailboxes, according to the release.

In her release, Blaney says the average letter carrier in Campbell River has put in 140 hours of overtime since the onset of this exercise. The forced overtime came as a result of cutting positions, but has put overwhelming demands on the workers, impacting quality of life, ability to spend time with their families and resulting in physical exhaustion.

“I have heard terrible stories from constituents of all ages and abilities who have been hurt attempting to access their mailbox. This is exactly the concerns the NDP has raised in the House in the previous Parliament” said Blaney. “The NDP will continue to pressure the Liberal government to ensure they deliver on their election promise and restore home mail delivery.”

The conversion from door-to-door mail delivery to community mailboxes has been suspended since late October.

“We will work collaboratively with the Government of Canada to determine the best path forward given the ongoing challenges faced by the Canadian postal system,” Canada Post said in a statement on its website. “Efforts are now underway to place the comprehensive program on hold in an orderly fashion. This involves roughly 460,000 addresses across the country which are currently in the process to be converted to community mailboxes. As a result, all conversions planned for November and December 2015 and those announced for 2016 will be placed on hold.”

In December, Campbell River council received a letter from Canada Post stating that delivery to the door has been maintained to those homes that were not converted to community mailboxes in the fall, and that won’t be changing any time soon. All mailbox installations were put on hold, and Canada Post was removing any community mailboxes that were installed but had not yet been put in use.

Canada Post has said that those communities that have already made the switch, which includes most of Campbell River, will continue to use community mailboxes until the program is reviewed.