For decades, one of the mainstays of every home has been the mailbox, generally within reach of the front door.
Every day, we crack open the door, reach in and get our newspaper. Later, we go through the same procedure to get our mail. But this second practice has been changing over recent years and is about to change for everyone within five years.
Canada Post has announced that it will be phasing out mail deliveries to the door in favour of community mailboxes. For the uninitiated, community mailboxes are a collection of private mail slots, individually keyed, all located in a central location within a neighbourhood. Residents can stop on their way to or from work or go for a walk to get their mail whenever they please.
There's conflicting data on how many Canadian already use community mailboxes, ranging from a third to two-thirds of the population. Community mailboxes have been the norm in new subdivisions for years.
In Canada Post's defence, something had to be done. The agency has been losing billions of dollars on a service that is being used less and less by Canadians. Letters, cards and notices are being sent electronically instead of by mail. Banking, bill receiving and paying, purchasing and confirmation notices are also being done electronically.
Canada Post's five-point plan is expected to save more than $700 million a year. Many other models, including one-day delivery, franchising the mail and privatization were considered before introducing this plan.
For new neighbourhoods, the changes have little impact, except that it will be much more expensive to mail items. In rural areas, the mailbox has generally been at the end of the driveway and not at the front door.
But for older neighbourhoods, there will be a number of changes. Convenience will certainly be one. Where will my community mailbox be located? Do I really need to check it every day or even every week? Will my mail be safe? Will there be rampant littering when people choose not to take their junk mail home with them?
Another concern that has not been addressed is whether there will be a cost to homeowners for the establishment of community mailboxes. Let's hope that we are not assessed some form of fee for the privilege of walking a few blocks to pick up what has previously been delivered to the mailbox at our front door.
Mike Moore is president of the Manitoba Home Builders' Association.