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Community mailboxes to replace home delivery of letters and parcels

Laura Anderson checks her postal box near Maple Bay, an activity that will become standard throughout the valley as Canada Post phases out its letter carriers. - Peter W. Rusland
Laura Anderson checks her postal box near Maple Bay, an activity that will become standard throughout the valley as Canada Post phases out its letter carriers.
— image credit: Peter W. Rusland

Get set to walk down the block for your letters — costing more to mail — and small parcels.

Superboxes will replace thousands of posties handling home delivery of personal mail in the next five years, a Canada Post official said.

The looming changes follow national citizen-feedback sessions that revealed shifting consumer habits such as on-line shopping, explained spokeswoman Anick Losier.

"People want to track their parcels, and still know it's put in a secure place," she told the News Leader Pictorial from Ottawa.

"People told us in community meetings they don't want to pay for Canada Post's deficit."

A Conference Board of Canada report last spring found Canada Post would face annual losses of $1 billion by 2020 without major reforms.

The reduced workforce, and other changes, are expected to save Canada Post up to $900 million per year, while competing with other mail methods such as couriers, email — even experimental drones.

Some 8,000 letter carriers, including an unknown number in Cowichan, will be phased out by attrition, such as retirement, or be shifted to other duties, she explained.

"Job security won't be impacted. That's why it's important to start this action now and build a strong, viable Canada Post for the future."

That future will see the Crown corporation use a five-point restructuring scheme.

That plan spans moving Canada's remaining third of homes and businesses to mailbox use, from door-to-door delivery; higher stamp prices (rising to $1 March 31 from the current 63 cents); more in-store post-office franchises; and fine-tuning of sorting and delivery-route issues.

"They'll still deliver to community mail boxes, centralized delivery systems like apartment boxes, group boxes, and general delivery."

The move to mailboxes won't be that big, Losier signalled, since most new suburbs have the red-metal community boxes now.

Some folks say those mailboxes can be vandalized. Postal crime is a problem constantly considered by Losier's bosses.

"Crime is a social problem everywhere; we're not immune to that. We're testing new equipment such as anti-pry boxes."

Other Canadians suggested delivering mail say, every other day.

But that might not work so well for business owners.

"Some people really depend on the mail so we have to keep it daily," she said. "We want to be a viable economic engine for them."

It's all aimed at lowering Canada Post's debt load. "We had a $129-million loss in the last quarter," Losier said of July to September.

"This is the beginning of a new postal system that fits people's busy lives."

 

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