Staff, councillors weigh in on mail delivery...
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Mar 05, 2014  |  Vote 0    0

Staff, councillors weigh in on mail delivery changes

Stratford Gazette

Chet Greason

With few details having been released, the City of Stratford is waiting to find out what the impact of Canada Post’s decision to eliminate door-to-door service will have on the community.

Following a discussion at the Dec. 16 meeting of council, staff was tasked with compiling a report investigating the potential impact. That report was presented to the the public works subcommittee on Feb. 26, although it offered very little in terms of specifics.

Canada Post’s decision, part of the company’s “Five Point Action Plan” announced last year, aims to significantly reduce operating costs as a response to the realities of today’s digital age. Canada Post says the elimination of door-to-door service will affect about one third of Canadians, mostly in urban centres, who still receive mail at their door. Community mail boxes will instead be installed, which the company says are more convenient and accessible for people.

The company will be phasing in the new community mail box system slowly, beginning with 11 municipalities across Canada including Oakville, Ont., Repentigny, Que., and parts of Winnipeg.

At the subcommittee meeting, manager of development services, Jeff Leunissen, explained there was a conference call conducted with Canada Post staff in early February, and the crown corporation clarified the changes will likely not happen anytime this year in Stratford. City staff were assured they would be consulted well in advance of changes, and that Canada Post would be seeking public input in regards to community concerns.

Concerns were raised by subcommittee members about the accessibility of community mail boxes, especially in the winter when snow drifts have a tendency to block them.

Leunissen clarified it’s Canada Post’s responsibility to clear snow from in front of mail boxes, even after a previously cleared out mailbox site has been filled in by a passing snowplow.

“They’re saying, ‘Let us know, and we’ll go back and clear them,’” he said.

Coun. George Brown questioned the likelihood of that promise being followed through with, noting his neighbourhood’s community mailbox was “very inconvenient.”

“I think the city should make a deal to clear the snow and be done with it,” he ventured.

Concerns were also raised about the distance residents could expect to walk to get their mail. Leunissen explained there is no maximum distance requirement for mail delivery.

“In some rural areas, people may drive two kilometres (for their mail)” he said.

The general hope of the subcommittee was that Canada Post would share whatever information it receives from the public so that the city can make adjustments if needed. However, it was noted that most of the hard changes will be left in the hands of the crown corporation itself.

“I think we shouldn’t just sit here waiting for the government to tell us what to do,” Coun. Keith Culliton argued, adding the local job market will take a hit once door-to-door service is pulled.

“That’s the difference between email and snail mail,” Brown countered. “It’s up to Canada Post to notify its employees. Unfortunately, it’s happening everywhere.”

The staff report was accepted as information and will be passed along to council. The public works subcommittee vowed to continue following new developments closely.

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