Canada Post Corporation was accused of destroying a public service Monday night as residents and postal workers packed council chambers at municipal hall to discuss the elimination of door-to-door mail delivery in Mission.
The change is part of the corporation’s five-point plan to reduce operating costs by more than $700 million a year. About 7,700 homes in Mission already receive mail from a community mailbox (CMB), and the change will affect 6,100 addresses. When the conversion in completed later this year, close to 99 per cent of residents will be served by CMBs.
Gilles Chagnon, manager of municipal engagement for CPC, explained letter mail has decreased significantly over the years and currently only one-third of Canadians receive their mail at their door.
He also described the benefits of a CMB, such as individual compartments can fit about 80 per cent of mail sent, and the larger boxes at the bottom can accommodate the rest.
But when Chagnon said theft is rare from CMBs, many in the audience couldn’t hold back their chuckles of doubt.
“The new units are constructed to be more secure and tamper proof,” said Chagnon.
CPC representatives were invited to the meeting to address the issue, but provided few answers to council and the audience. No decisions have yet been made about the future of the post office building on First Avenue when mail sorting will be removed and centralized in Abbotsford, or where residents will pick up their mail if a CMB has been broken into.
“We’ll cross that bridge when we get there,” said Chad Schella, director of government affairs.
CPC representatives were also criticized for the lack of community consultation during the process so far.
A retired postal worker noted one of the new CMB locations is in front of her house, but nobody has talked to her about it.
Schella explained consultations are still underway and the door knocking campaign to discuss the changes is still ongoing. A toll free number, 1-844-454-3009, has also been set up to address any concerns residents may have, but some who have called the number complained they did not receive any responses or a call back.
Retired letter carrier Sophie Zehner said CPC, a federally run corporation, has its mind made up to go ahead with its plan and the only thing residents can do is to vote in this year’s election to show their disapproval.
“It’s not just about money,” said Zehner, noting letter carriers regularly visit elderly residents and keep an eye on them to make sure they’re okay.
CPC will be responsible for the maintenance of the super mailboxes, including picking up litter around the site, removing graffiti, and repairing any damage.
Schella added it would take CPC up to 48 hours to clean up graffiti and three weeks to repair a damaged CMB.
Postal workers at the meeting pointed out one box in Mission has been out of service since February.
Mission council is working on a motion to hold CPC responsible for maintaining the CMBs in the community.