Door-to-door mail in Chilliwack set to end mid-November

Canada Post announced last month that Chilliwack would be among the first communities to see home delivery axed in 2015

The new model of community mailbox is supposed to more secure than the units currently in use. Chilliwack's door-to-door delivery is set to end in November.

The new model of community mailbox is supposed to more secure than the units currently in use. Chilliwack's door-to-door delivery is set to end in November.

Postal workers found out last week precisely when door-to-door delivery of the mail is set to end in Chilliwack.

The end date is Nov. 16, 2015 for 12,200 Chilliwack households.

That’s when they will start picking up their mail from community mailboxes, in a process they’re calling CMB conversion, instead of retrieving it from their doorsteps.

“We now have an end date in sight,” said Peter Butcher, president of the Upper Valley local of Canadian Union of Postal Workers.

Canada Post announced last month that Chilliwack would be among the first communities to see home delivery axed in 2015 in a cost-saving measure.

Butcher represents 63 CUPW workers in Chilliwack, including letter carriers and rural route carriers, who got the news about the conversion date this week.

“Morale at the station is not that good,” he admitted.

About 23 mail carrier routes could go down to 13 mobile routes in Chilliwack, he said.

The local Posties are not sure yet how it will impact local workers in the coming months, as November looms.

“Canada Post is transforming to secure its future to meet the changing needs of Canadians and succeed in an increasingly competitive marketplace,” wrote a Canada Post official in a memo to depot staff.

“We recognize that these changes may create a great deal of uncertainty among our employees. We want to assure you that a primary consideration of our planning is the effect on our employees.”

Attrition is expected to account for some of the staffing adjustments by way of retirements, resignations and transfers, according to correspondence.

Early in the new year, residents received input forms from Canada Post, asking for feedback about the coming changes, and the phasing out of door-to-door delivery in urban areas across Canada.

They’re effectively “dissolving” the mail carrier position, said Butcher.

The estimated reduction of the work force is about 40 cent.

“You’re going to have all these surplus bodies,” Butcher said. “Something has to give. It’s happening everywhere. So where are we going to go?”

Canada Post officials have pledged to follow provisions of the union’s collective agreement, and to work with union reps, on staffing and job security.

“They’ll follow the provisions, until we have a new agreement,” he said.

The phasing out of door-to-door is part of a five-part plan Canada Post put out late last year to deal with dwindling mail volumes and declining revenues.

“These initiatives will help the Corporation to better serve the emerging needs of Canadians, and fulfill its mandate to remain financially self-sufficient and avoid becoming a burden on taxpayers,” said the Canada Post news release. “For instance, delivering to community mailboxes provides convenience and security, but costs significantly less than the cost to deliver to the door.”

The new model of CMB is supposed to more secure than the mailboxes currently in use, but Butcher is not convinced.

“People who are unhappy with losing door-to-door service, or with mail theft should really contact their MP.”

There have been numerous break-ins to existing CMBs — with 20 sites hit in the month of December alone in Chilliwack, Butcher added.

He ticked off the names of some of the local streets targeted by mail thieves: “Highroad, Stevenson, Nicomen, Bailey, Lancaster, Gillian Place, Chilliwack Lake Road, Keith Wilson, Jinkerson, Teskey Road and more.”

Most of the jimmied mailboxes have not been repaired, and an estimated 350 residents have been forced to retrieve their mail from the downtown post office.

“It’s been more than a month of trekking back and forth to get their mail. “It is taking forever to get them fixed. This is unacceptable.”

jfeinberg@theprogress.com

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