Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Fear and loathing over mailboxes

North End homes to lose delivery

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Coun. Ross Eadie wants to know who will be responsible for clearing ice and snow away from the community boxes as well as picking up litter.

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Coun. Ross Eadie wants to know who will be responsible for clearing ice and snow away from the community boxes as well as picking up litter. Photo Store

Ross Eadie is delivering a message to Canada Post -- and it's not going to like it.

The Winnipeg city councillor (Mynarski) is fuming over the corporation's ongoing metamorphosis of shedding residential mail delivery, with the latest territory in the R2R and R2X postal codes in the city's northwest region by 2015 (see accompanying map).

Specifically, Eadie is decrying loss of delivery in the more rugged neighbourhoods along Burrows and Selkirk avenues. Standing at the corner of Burrows and Battery Street, Eadie vowed the installation of community mailboxes would come with a price.

"We're in a neighbourhood where one of the toughest guys in the North End, an old friend of mine, he says to me, 'Rosco, even I'm afraid to walk around here,' " Eadie said. "And this is where they want people to come out of their houses and have a nice social interaction when they're getting their mail?

"It's ridiculous. It's going to be a nightmare. Trust me, we're going to have problems. Somebody is going to get hurt."

'It's going to be a nightmare. Trust me, we're going to have problems. Somebody is going to get hurt' -- Coun. Ross Eadie

Eadie is not just referring to personal violence but envisions seniors attempting to manoeuvre around snowbanks and sheets of ice during Winnipeg's long winter months. "Accidents will happen," he said.

But the corner of Battery and Burrows is only a tiny intersection in a country-wide evolution of Canada Post. Today in Winnipeg, more than 40,000 households receive mail via community mailboxes, while 169,000 residents still get door-to-door treatment. In five years, no households in Winnipeg will get mail hand-delivered to the doorstep. (The Maples, West Kildonan, Margaret Park and Garden City will all have community boxes by this fall.)

Across Canada, five million households will go from door-to-door delivery to community mailboxes over the next five years (to nine million from four million).

Canada Post spokesman Jon Hamilton said the reason for the shift away from traditional delivery boils down to finances and technology. There were 1.2 billion fewer letters sent in 2013 than in 2006. Eliminating door-to-door delivery will save the corporation $400 million to $500 million annually, Hamilton added.

"Mail has been on the decline for the last seven years," Hamilton said. "We need to make changes so we don't become a drain on the taxpayers."

Hamilton said Canada Post informed employees of the changes in Winnipeg Friday morning. Residents of the affected area will soon be receiving surveys to fill out for feedback.

Count Shelley Gray as one of those residents against the plan.

"I don't want to walk to the corner when it's 40 below in January," the longtime Manitoba Avenue resident said. "Last year and all that snow? You couldn't climb over all the snowbanks in the front yards.

"We've had a mailman forever," Gray added. "It's one of those things where I like saying, 'hello' to my mailman. I know when he's coming because the dog starts barking and the cat hisses. I still think there's something nice about getting a handwritten letter with people's thoughts. Not just a half-inch blurb (email, text message or tweet)."

Gray has already sent her objections to area MP Kevin Lamoureux. City Coun. Devi Sharma (Old Kildonan) is already fielding calls from constituents wanting answers to the Canada Post move.

"People are concerned about access and safety," Sharma said. "This is being looked at. I understand their concerns and they're real."

Sharma said discussions between Canada Post and city staff will continue when it comes to determining where and how many community boxes will be installed in each neighbourhood. Said Sharma: "This isn't something that's going to be finished tomorrow."

But Eadie believes trouble awaits. Who will be responsible for ice and snow that blocks access, especially after heavy snowfalls? Who will pick up litter?

Besides, Eadie said, while city officials may suggest where mailboxes should be placed, Canada Post has the final call. "Canada Post has the royal prerogative to install them wherever they want. We can't stop them."

The councillor said if the volume of mail has declined, why not just have it delivered door to door every other day or twice a week?

Meanwhile, residents remain skeptical.

"Not in this area," said Mary Fehr, when asked about community mailboxes while walking her dog Friday afternoon. "Are you kidding? With the vandalism that goes on here, I wouldn't trust the boxes to be safe."

randy.turner@freepress.mb.ca

Areas that are getting community mailboxes

The map below shows the postal code areas that will be getting new community mailboxes. Areas in orange were announced earlier this year and will get new mailboxes in 2014; areas in red were announced June 13 and will get mailboxes in 2015. Click on a particular area to see the first three characters of its postal code.

Can't see the map above? Try viewing it in a new window.

Map by Inayat Singh.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 14, 2014 A15

History

Updated on Saturday, June 14, 2014 at 10:59 AM CDT: corrects typo

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