Nova Scotia Chapter: Nova Scotians with community mailboxes stuck with them for now

Click here to read ‘Nova Scotians with community mailboxes stuck with them for now’ by Andrea Gunn – Herald News, October 27, 2015

Canada Post has taken the first step in facilitating the Liberal promise to scrap the controversial community mailbox program introduced under the Harper government, but many Nova Scotians are stuck with the changes — at least for now.

On Monday, the national mail carrier announced it was halting plans for construction of the mailboxes in anticipation of working with the new government. A Canada Post news release said all conversions planned for November and December, and those announced for 2016, would be placed on hold, but anyone converted beforehand, including those switched in October, will have to continue to retrieve their mail at the community boxes.

George Nickerson, Atlantic co-ordinator for the Canadian Union of Postal Workers’ Save Canada Post campaign, said while the news was welcome, there are still concerns to be addressed.

Nickerson said the announcement means mailboxes planned for New Glasgow and Truro next summer will be scrapped. But many other Nova Scotians, such as the 13,000 customers in Spryfield, Armdale, Fairview and Clayton Park who switched from door-to-door delivery in August, will have to make do with the new model.

The union will be pushing to change that.

“Right now, our role is to pressure the Liberals to make sure the review of Canada Post happens, while pushing for new revenue-generating services to help offset the cost of reversing these cuts, and hopefully expanding door-to-door delivery as well,” Nickerson said.

Bill VanGorder, chairman of the Nova Scotia chapter of the Canadian Association of Retired Persons, said while he is pleased the plans are being re-examined, it would be unfair to those communities recently converted to community mailboxes not to have door-to-door service restored.

Because of the challenges and safety risks posed to seniors, his organization has been outspoken about the plan to scrap door-to-door delivery since it was announced in 2013. VanGorder said any plan for change to mail service under the Liberal government should be done in consultation with seniors and groups such as his.

Dave Grimshire of Middle Sackville lives in an area that was switched to a community mailbox last fall. Grimshire said the system has come with its share of problems from frozen locks to snowbanks impeding access to the new boxes. Because of these issues, he now only bothers to check his mail twice weekly.

“Traffic has changed, people are doing U-turns in front of the box … there’s lighting issues. I get home after work and it’s dark out, so I have to use my phone to light it.”

Grimshire said he hopes the government will consider restoration of door-to-door delivery in all areas affected by the changes.

Halifax Liberal MP-elect Andy Fillmore said some communities will likely see restoration of door-to-door delivery, especially in areas where people are having difficulty accessing group mailboxes. But, he said reverting all changes across Canada — regardless of the cost to taxpayers — isn’t necessarily the answer either.

“What the party has always said and will continue to say is stop the blanket changes right away, engage with Canada Post and with Canadians and figure out what changes, if any, are required and proceed on a rational basis rather than a political basis,” Fillmore said.
“This is about changing the way our communities work, and government always has to be sensitive to the impact change has on citizens.”