A change of heart on mailboxes

There are serious, legitimate concerns surrounding Canada Post’s action plan

There has been a lot of talk recently about Canada Post’s move to convert all homes to community mailboxes.

Two weeks ago, council heard two presentations – one by Gille Chagnon, Canada Post’s manager of municipal engagement, and one by postal workers Monica Judd and Brigid Pomeroy.

ºA full house turned out at that meeting to listen in.

I will admit, at first my thoughts strayed towards ‘why are people so upset about this, many people in Campbell River are already using community mailboxes.’

I myself used a community mailbox for nearly all of the years I’ve lived in Campbell River. When we moved a year and a half ago to the house we’re in now, it was the first time in nearly 16 years that I got to enjoy home delivery.

But before the anti-community mailbox faction comes for my head, I will also admit that as I listened to Judd and Pomeroy’s presentation to council, I quickly realized there’s a lot at stake.

There are serious, legitimate concerns surrounding Canada Post’s action plan, such as how will those with mobility issues get access to their mail.

Then there’s also the issue of safety – a woman walking alone in the dark to get the mail after work in the winter time comes to mind. Or having to navigate around vehicles pulling over to get their mail and those pulling back out into traffic.

I can also imagine the rate of jaywalking going up, as people who live on a busy street such as Alder may not want to walk up the hill to the closest crosswalk and instead risk running across the street when it looks clear. Also a safety issue.

And while it may not be as big of an issue here on the West Coast, there is also the weather to consider – if we by chance do get a large snowfall as we did last year it very well may be that it’s difficult to go and get the mail for a few days. After all, the city does not plough the sidewalks.

And who is going to want a community mailbox in front of their home? Canada Post said it’s heard loud and clear that Campbell River residents want smaller boxes closer to their homes, which means there’s a great likelihood that some may end up adjacent to residential homes.

I can honestly say I wouldn’t want one in front of my yard. I feel as if I would have less privacy and the constant stream of vehicles pulling up in front of my yard would get annoying.

Then there’s one of the most important arguments against community mailboxes.

The loss of jobs. A total of 10-15 full-time positions in Campbell River alone stand to be axed according to Judd and Pomeroy’s presentation to council.

Some of these letter carriers, who brave all kinds of weather to make sure we get our mail delivered securely and on time, will be out of a job. That’s the thanks they get for all their years of service.

They have a right to be concerned. No one wants to lose a good job. Most have families to feed and rent or a mortgage to pay.

Then there’s the city.

One councillor I spoke to following that council meeting is concerned about the possibility of having to lay new sidewalks so people can access the mailboxes and about the safety of people having to pull over on a busy street, such as Alder or Dogwood, to collect their mail from the communal box. The city may also feel obligated to put in street lights if some  boxes are located in an area that’s particularly dark or unsafe.

Canada Post has provided the city with a list of proposed locations and city staff is currently reviewing those sites.

Let’s hope they get it right because so far there has been minimal consultation with the public from Canada Post, other than a survey that told us we would be getting community mailboxes whether we like it or not, but what kind would we like?

It’s an unfortunate situation and I’m sure the community will adapt, but I truly feel for the hardworking letter carriers that stand to be out of a job and as Judd put it in her presentation to council, were blindsided.