Residents in northwest Winnipeg remain concerned Canada Post’s plans to erect community mailboxes in the area will create problems for locals, especially during winter.
The crown corporation announced in February that people living in northwest Winnipeg, including The Maples, Garden City and West Kildonan, would be among the first to make the switch, part of a five-year national initiative that will affect approximately five million addresses.
On Wed., May 14, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers held a community forum at Maples Collegiate to discuss possible issues stemming from the switch to community mailboxes.
Garden City resident Ben Hanuschak, 84, a former Manitoba politician and Seven Oaks School Division trustee, was at the meeting and feels Canada Post’s plan goes against its own Canada Post Corporation Act.
"While maintaining basic customary postal service, the Corporation, in carrying out its objects, shall have regard to the desirability of improving and extending its products and services in the light of developments in the field of communications," said Hanuschak reading from the act.
"Now, that does not imply cutting back on staff or reducing mail delivery staff. It speaks about improving and extending products and services. If there’s room for improvement, by all means, but improvement does not imply cutting back."
Coun. Ross Eadie (Mynarski) is not a fan of Canada Post’s plan to phase out home delivery of mail in favour of community mailboxes.
Eadie said the community mailboxes will not be easily accessible to the disabled or seniors with mobility issues.
"It’s setting us people with disabilities back 30 years," said Eadie, who is blind.
"It’s -30 out there for at least a month. I’m going to freeze my hands because I’m going to have to feel out the mailbox trying to find the keyhole. I just think it’s ridiculous."
Winter is the major reason Eadie said the community mailboxes won’t work in Winnipeg. For instance, Eadie said existing community mailboxes in the city often have windrows in front of them. The City of Winnipeg doesn’t clear windrows on private property.
"Canada Post, while they do have crews going around shovelling these things out, they don’t remove the windrows," Eadie said.
"The City of Winnipeg will be the one blamed for the problems that the community mailboxes cause. It happens right now, just talk to Councillor Havixbeck or Councillor Mayes (both have community mailboxes in their respective wards).The complaints come in and they blame us. They think it’s our windrow, but it’s not. It’s Canada Post’s."
In addition to accessibility issues, Eadie said the mailboxes will result in people throwing their flyers and junk mail on the street. He also believes parking issues will arise from people driving to their mailbox and he’s also concerned people might be targeted by criminals while getting their mail.
Like Eadie, Hanuschak — who served as a cabinet minister in Premier Edward Schreyer’s government and was a founding member of the Progressive Party of Manitoba — believes Winnipeg’s winters don’t line up with Canada Post’s plan.
"In a letter (sent to residents), Canada Post’s senior vice-president Mary Traversy says care will be exercised to ensure the mailboxes are placed within easy reach of sidewalks and close to adequately street light illuminated areas," Hanuschak said.
"Well, I don’t know if she lives in Canada or not. Sidewalk snow clearance is not a priority in our city. The streets for vehicular traffic are plowed first, then the sidewalks. Well, if you’re hobbling along with a cane, you sure as hell aren’t going to plow through a foot of snow."