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Angie Lawrence didn't like using the community mailbox at first, but says it's safe and secure and now she 'loves it.'

PHOTOS BY MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Angie Lawrence didn't like using the community mailbox at first, but says it's safe and secure and now she 'loves it.' Photo Store

SO if you don't get your mail at the door, where do you go? Community mailboxes or "superboxes," where, according to union estimates, approximately 30 per cent of Winnipeggers currently collect their mail.

Superboxes are a common sight in the suburbs and are a practical way to handle urban sprawl. Letter carriers can stop at a superbox and deliver mail to the majority of the street's residents. Superboxes are found on the boulevards at the end of most residential streets, near cul-de-sacs and periodically on roads without cross-streets.

One superbox usually serves nine residents, but when the superboxes are clustered, in what Canada Post calls mini-parks, they can serve upwards of 36 residents.

Letter carriers, often travelling by vehicle, will open the main panel of the superbox and fill the compartments. Some boxes are labelled on the inside with the recipient's address to avoid delivering mail to the wrong person. Superboxes also have compartments for larger deliveries. The recipient of a package will get a blue key in their mailbox. The key opens a large compartment at the bottom of the superbox and the key is dropped in the mail pickup slot once the package is retrieved.

Canada Post is responsible for maintaining the boxes once they're installed. That includes snow removal around the box.

The pros

  • Each compartment in the superbox is protected by a lock and key. This deters thieves who sometimes go through unlocked mailboxes at residences.
  • Superboxes are more efficient for postal workers to access. More than 25 residents can have their mail delivered in one stop.
  • Letter carriers encounter fewer risks when delivering to superboxes. Workers don't have to approach strange animals or navigate poorly maintained walkways.
  • Most categories of mail can be delivered to superboxes, including large parcels.
  • Superboxes have a slot to collect outgoing mail so you can pick up and drop off mail all at the same time.

The cons

  • Superboxes have been targets for theft and vandalism.
  • Residents may have to travel 15 metres or more from their home to get to the superboxes.
  • Accessing superboxes can be difficult for people with mobility issues and disabilities.
  • Superboxes tend to collect junk mail people don't take with them. Flyers end up on the ground or stuffed between the boxes.
  • If a parcel is too big for the box, you have to go to the nearest post office to claim the package.
  • Lose the key to your box and you'll be paying at least $30 to replace it.
danielle.dasilva@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 12, 2013 A4

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