Security and mobility issues dominate conversion discussion

Chilliwack will be one of the first communities to have door-to-door phased out by Canada Post later this year

Gilles Chagnon

Mail security was the main concern of Chilliwack residents who filled out mail-in surveys about the Canada Post plan to end door-to-door mail delivery.

Those with limited mobility or disabilities also noted concerns about the conversion to locked community mailboxes, which could be located down the street from them.

Chilliwack is one of the first communities in the five-year plan to have door-to-door phased out this year, as they started conversion efforts on the outskirts of larger urban centres.

So there’s heightened concern from many sectors about the transition.

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers requested to be a delegation before Chilliwack council about the elimination of door-to-door but the response was that a council meeting “was not the platform” for such a discussion, as it was more of a labour relations matter.

CUPW represents about 63 workers in Chilliwack, and about 21 of those members are mail carriers.

Canada Post Corp. reps were invited to appear and several appeared in council chambers this week as a delegation.

“We will ensure that every Canadian is able to get their mail,” stated Gilles Chagnon, municipal engagement/government affairs rep for Canada Post, in his report to Chilliwack council on Tuesday.

Just under 12,000 residential households in Chilliwack with a postal code beginning with V2P will see the conversion to CMBs on Nov. 16, along with 134 business customers. About the same number already have the mailboxes.

“Making the decision to end mail delivery to the door has been difficult,” Chagnon said.

Only about one-third of Canadians still receive their letter and parcel mail at the doorstep.

Locals were asked for feedback in a consultation survey recently, asking for preferences about location and style of CMBs or community mailboxes.

They’re working on finding “alternative approaches” for those “for whom the change would be a considerable hardship,” Chagnon noted.

Site selection for the new boxes will be partly from the feedback received, using safety and proximity as considerations.

Canada Post will install the new mailboxes, and then keys will be delivered with the date when to start using them.

Mail theft is still an ongoing irritant.

“It’s true that crime is a reality here, and theft of mail, even one incident is too many,” he said.

Mayor Sharon Gaetz thanked the Canada Post rep for honouring a request from council to come to Chilliwack to address the changes to delivery and the issue of mail security.

“Security is the number one complaint I have heard from people,” Gaetz said about the conversion plan. “I’m glad you’re taking it seriously.”

The other question the mayor had was about potential job losses of postal workers.

Chagnon replied that the losses are expected to be all from attrition, as thousands are set to retire in the coming years.

“No one will be let go for the purposes of this project,” he stated.

Municipalities have noted concerns about the snow removal and graffiti cleanup costs after switching the CMBs, and Mayor Gaetz added that the conversion process will be “an adjustment” for many residents.

The “historic shift” from paper to digital transactions is in part responsible for the decision to end home delivery, according to Chagnon. The corporation delivered fewer than two billion pieces of mail in 2013, or a decrease of 1.2 billion, way down from the five billion pieces it delivered back in 2006.

The end of delivery is part of a five-point plan Canada Post will follow to find efficiencies, sustain postal services and save money.

With less paper mail and more addresses to deliver to, the math just didn’t “add up,” he said.

See the public feedback they put in a report called ‘Our Consultation With Canadians’ at canadapost.ca. A toll-free number to call for seniors or those with significant mobility issues to get special accommodation consideration is 1-844-454-3009.

jfeinberg@theprogress.com

Twitter.com/chwkjourno

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