By Mike Pearson, News staff
More than 36,000 Mountain and upper Stoney Creek households can expect to receive an information package outlining Canada Post’s plans to end door-to-door mail delivery in their neighbourhoods.
Mary Traversy, senior vice-president of business transformation for Canada Post, said the Crown corporation will begin the transition to community mailbox delivery by next spring. The affected postal codes begin with L9C, L9A, L8V, L8T, L8W and L8J.
The transition is part of a five-year phase out of home delivery across the country, first announced last fall.
Traversy said Canada Post decided to focus on older areas above the escarpment because many of the newer subdivisions nearby already include community mailboxes.
“Many of the new subdivisions built over the last 30 years have been on community mailbox delivery,” said Traversy. “These would be areas that have been built after the mid-80s.”
In Hamilton, there are currently about 117,000 addresses which still receive door-to-door service. Roughly four million Canadians are already served by community mailboxes.
While no public meetings are scheduled to review the changes, Traversy said residents will be encouraged to fill out a survey to determine suitable locations for community mailboxes.
“We’ve got quite an elaborate consultative process,” said Traversy.
Along with information packages slated for delivery in a few weeks, impacted residents may complete an online or mail-in survey.
Traversy said a survey distributed last year had a 40 per cent response rate.
“The survey gives us some information about what the concerns are, and whether people want the mailboxes closer to their home or in a more public space.”
Other considerations include safety and security.
Traversy said Canada Post is working closely with the city’s planning department on potential mailbox locations. The units have traditionally been installed using easements and municipal road allowances.
Traversy said Canada Post hasn’t set benchmark distances to determine how far residents should be expected to walk or drive to the mailboxes.
“The survey in 2014 said the folks were interetsed in having the boxes closer to their homes, so walking distance,” said Traversy. “But in many of the subdivisions, we’ve put the boxes more at the entrance to the subdivision and people drive to it on the way home from work.”
Despite a 30-year trend to reduce door-to-door delivery, Hamilton East-Stoney Creek NDP MP Wayne Marston is vehemently opposing the changes.
Marston, the NDP critic for consular services and deputy labour critic, said the entire 103-member NDP caucus is committed to advocating for the current level of service.
Marston has spearheaded two petitions against the service changes, which he plans to deliver to the legislature this fall.
“I’m very concerned with it because of the obvious,” said Marston. “It’s difficult for seniors, in the wintertime particularly, but beyond that, there was a mandate by Canada Post to provide services and the mandate comes from the federal government. The federal governmet says its an arms-length corporation, but we are the only one in the G8 that is doing this.”
In an official statement released last fall, Canada Post president and CEO Deepak Chopra cited high cost structures and declining revenues for the restructuring. He acknowledged that Canada Post is the first post office in the world to phase out door-to-door delivery.
But Marston said Canada Post should examine new business models, like postal banking, to maximize revenues and protect door-to-door service.
“To my mind, cutting this down the way they have, getting rid of the workforce seems like full privatization is on the horizon,” said Marston, who admitted he lacks evidence to support the claim.
“This is the single hottest issue that’s going on, even though it’s somewhat modest and below the radar. For the man on the street and his family, this is a critically important issue and I think the government is in for a rather rude awakening,” said Marston.
Despite the reality that millions of Canadians already receive mail from a community mailbox, Marston said the trend should be reversed.
“As far as we’re concerned, it should be door-to-door in every area.”
Marston said community mailboxes decrease property values and lead to discarded admail strewn across properties and cars stopping at all hours of the day.
Canada Post has countered those claims by pointing out the community mailboxes provide more security than unlocked mailboxes and include secure parcel lockers while ensuring mail doesn’t pile up if customers aren’t home.
As it has stated previously, Canada Post anticipates no layoffs as a result of the transition to community mailboxes.
“Retirements and attritition will outpace our ability to restruture these jobs,” said Traversy.
Traversy said the corporation expects 15,000 employees to retire over the next five years.
“This restructuring will just help us figure out how not to replace about half of them,” she said.