Canada Post halts community mailbox conversion

Possible reprieve for 460,000 households slated to lose door-to-door home delivery

Residents in many neighbourhoods have opposed the switch to community mailboxes because they are often targeted by thieves.

Canada Post is freezing its plan to end door-to-door mail delivery for hundreds of thousands of additional households and switch them to community mailboxes.

The Crown corporation announced Monday it is “temporarily suspending” the deployment pending discussions with the incoming Liberal government on how “to determine the best path forward given the ongoing challenges faced by the Canadian postal system.”

The Liberals had run on a promise to study and potentially reverse the shift away from home delivery.

Canada Post said 460,000 addresses across the country are in the process of being converted to community mail boxes and all conversions scheduled for November, December or 2016 will be put on hold.

“Customers impacted by this decision will receive a letter within the next few weeks advising them of the status of their mail delivery service,” Canada  Post said in a news release.

“In neighbourhoods where the 10-month internal and community conversion process is complete, customers will collect mail and parcels at their community mailbox. This includes customers set to begin receiving their mail and parcels in their boxes in October. We remain focused on maintaining reliable postal service to all Canadians without disruption.”

Community mailboxes have been the target of criminals across the Lower Mainland, with residents in many neighbourhoods complaining their mail is too vulnerable to theft. The conversion has also been fought by the union representing postal employees.

The shift to community mailboxes was supposed to ultimately save the Crown corporation up to $500 million a year.

Conservative MP Mark Strahl (Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon) said he’ll be interested to see if Canada Post balances its budget through more efficiencies or if the new Liberal government intends to subsidize the shortfall.

If subsidizing is part of the new plan, Strahl predicts taxpayers won’t be happy.

“We’re talking about billions of dollars in taxpayer liability.”

Only one third of Canadians still receive door to door service, he said, and traditional mail is being used less and less — one of the reasons the corporation’s revenue has dropped.

– with files from Jessica Peters

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