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Impact from Canada Post delivery changes still uncertain

Tsawwassen resident Bella Medeiros checks her Canada Post community mailbox. - Adrian MacNair photo
Tsawwassen resident Bella Medeiros checks her Canada Post community mailbox.
— image credit: Adrian MacNair photo

A month after Canada Post announced it would be ending residential delivery to urban areas, Delta residents still don’t know how that will affect their mail service.

The federal Crown Corporation announced in December that urban areas would receive community mailboxes, but with Delta’s mixture of urban, suburban, and rural communities, nobody seems to know who’s on the list to receive them.

On Monday’s council meeting Coun. Sylvia Bishop suggested a government liaison from Canada Post come before council to answer that question and others, including ownership of the land where the mailboxes will be located, how many addresses will be included in each community mailbox, parking access, and the safety and security of people and property.

Bishop said two reports released by Canada Post–The Five-point Action Plan and Our Consultation With Canadians–do not answer any of those questions.

“We also have a large seniors community for whom mobility may become an issue,” she said.

Although Bishop originally proposed to send a letter to Canada Post, she amended her motion to invite a representative from Canada Post following a suggestion by Mayor Lois Jackson.

Coun. Bruce McDonald said that when Canada Post made the announcement last month there were municipalities with newer subdivisions and community mailboxes that raised the issue of security and privacy.

“One of the concerns is that many of the new mailboxes that are being installed are really not secure,” he said. “They have become a very consistent target because you don’t have to break into 48 houses, you just have to break into one and you get 48 people’s mail.”

McDonald added that when Canada Post has to make repairs to community mailboxes that the mail is kept at nearby postal offices which have business hours that would make it difficult for working people to access.

In terms of the impact to jobs, although collective bargaining agreements will protect local postal workers, many of those who leave the Crown Corporation will not be replaced.

Stephen Gale, local president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers for Fraser Valley West, said there will be an estimated 8,000 jobs lost over the next five years across the country through natural attrition.

“I think more of a concern to us is customer service, especially in South Delta,” he said. “Tsawwassen is an area in particular where there is a lot of older people that may not be as mobile as they once were and suddenly they’re going to be having to drive their car to a centralized delivery point,.

Gale also questioned the poor timing of the announcement, which was made two weeks before Christmas during the largest volumes of the year, adding it contributed to low morale for postal workers.

Canada Post surprised many South Delta residents last year when in April it announced it would be closing Ladner’s landmark post office. The cost-cutting move was one of many made across the country since posting its first annual loss in more than 16 years in 2011, coming up $253 million short.

In a Conference Board of Canada report from last April, falling mail volumes are predicted to result in an annual deficit of $1 billion by 2020 unless drastic measures are taken to address the shortfall.

Repeated requests for comment from Canada Post went unanswered.

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