By Gord Bowes, News staff
The location of new community mailboxes, plus litter and snow removal around them, were hot topics at recent meetings between the Mountain’s three city councillors and Canada Post officials.
A last-ditch effort was made for reconsideration of the cancellation of home delivery on the Mountain and part of Stoney Creek, but the appeal mostly fell on deaf ears, said east Mountain councillor Tom Jackson.
“It’s a sad, stark, harsh reality of changing times,” said Jackson.
The trio of councillors will meet as a group with Canada Post before the end of summer to reiterate their concerns.
Next summer, Canada Post plans to remove home delivery to about 36,500 homes in the area codes L8J, L8T, L8V, L8W, L9A and L9C and install what it calls community mailboxes.
West Mountain rep Terry Whitehead said he still believes reduced delivery — two or three days a week — would be a better approach than forcing people to go to communal sites to get their mail,
“There are other options than cancelling home delivery,” he said.
Whitehead said he’s worried about snow removal and litter from people dropping junk mail around the new boxes.
Canada Post doesn’t provide a garbage receptacle and encourages residents to take their waste home with them to dispose, but “that’s not going to happen,” said Whitehead.
He said he will see what bylaws or other means the city has to ensure there isn’t a problem with litter.
“We’ll use every tool in the toolbox,” said Whitehead.
John Caines, a spokesman with Canada Post, said the Crown corporation has used the community boxes for three decades now with few issues around garbage.
Canada Post doesn’t provide trash bins because they would be used for more than just mail, including dog feces, he said.
“I’ve had a community mailbox for 27 years,” said Caines. “There’s no litter on my street … People have to respect their own neighbourhoods and I don’t think they will be throwing stuff all over the place.”
He said Canada Post handles all maintenance and snow removal.
“It’s usually done by 9 o’clock in the morning, depending on when the snow fell,” said Caines. “We don’t clear during a snowstorm, we wait until the snow stops.”
Jackson said he gets complaints from residents in new developments, where home delivery has never been offered, about snow removal near the boxes. He fears seniors who have to start trekking down the street to communal sites will have difficulty.
“Obviously in wintertime they cannot be climbing over a two-foot-high windrow or pile of snow,” he said.
Jackson said Canada Post would be subject to the municipal snow removal bylaw and if boxes aren’t cleared he would notify Canada Post as a courtesy to remind them. But if they don’t react after that warning, “I would send our bylaw people in, we do it and charge it to their taxes, or in this case the corporation.”
Locations for the boxes, which usually have slots for 16 homes and are often grouped in three, have not been picked yet. Affected homeowners received a survey last month asking them what they would like to see, such as intersections, fewer locations containing more boxes or more sites so they can be closer to homes.
“Once we have a planned site, it’s not a final site, we go and consult the people whose property is adjacent to it,” said Caines. “If they have concerns, we’ll look for an alternate site.”
Jackson said he will be spending half a day with Canada Post representatives soon on a tour of Ward 6 to highlight possible locations, including an emphasis on putting boxes on municipal property, such as parks, where possible rather than in front of homes. “Public land where these things won’t stick out like a sore thumb,” he said.
Whitehead said retrofitting a neighbourhood doesn’t work as well as subdivisions which were required to have the communal sites from the beginning.
“These communities were not designed with super mailboxes in mind like new neighbourhoods are,” he said. “I can’t see too many areas in these older neighbourhoods where there are any points of entrances where they can put these super mailboxes.”
That would mean having the boxes further into a neighbourhood and in front of a lot of homes.
“There’s not a chance in hell I will support putting any of these boxes on people’s front yards,” said Whitehead.