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Source: Yahoo News Canada. March 6, 2014
If you’re one of the Canadians destined to lose their home mail delivery, cast your eyes on your new community mailbox.
Canada Post has taken the wraps off the redesigned community boxes destined to be installed in neighbourhoods where door-to-door delivery will be phased out over the next five years. The Crown corporation last month announced the first 11 communities to make the transition by the end of 2014.
The decision to end home delivery, part of Canada Post’s overall plan to stem the growing tide of red ink by the end of the decade, has sparked a strong backlash.
Critics say community boxes, like those that have been used for housing developments built in the last three decades, are magnets for thieves, accumulate garbage in the form of discarded junk mail and a burden for seniors and the disabled to use.
Canada Post says the “new, improved” community box will address those problems.
Instead of the current design with its square, doored pigeonholes, the new units feature narrow slots for regular mail that can accommodate 50 per cent of parcels and oversize packets normally mailed in Canada, as well as magazines lying flat.
Most larger parcels would go in big compartments at the bottom of the communal box, with a key left in the recipient’s individual slot, Canada Post says.
The boxes, mounted on concrete-anchored steel pillars, would stand 164 centimetres high, just over five feet. Unlike the existing boxes, the new ones will have a sloped top to shed snow and rain.
The redesigned boxes will feature a new type of lock and individual boxes can be allocated “at the appropriate height to better meet the needs of customers with a disability,” Canada Post says.
But the changes don’t impress Tony Dolan, chairman of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, which has warned the end of door-to-door delivery will isolate many disabled Canadians and make them more dependent on others.
“It doesn’t matter how well you design the boxes if there’s snow all around and you can’t get near it,” Dolan told the National Post.
The council wants Canada Post to consider alternatives to ending home delivery, such as cutting delivery to three days a week or putting mailboxes in sheltered locations such as drugstores and malls, the Post said.
But the Crown corporation appears set on forging ahead with the plan despite opposition from its union, politicians, cities that worry about where to locate boxes in dense neighbourhoods, and Canadians in many of the the five million affected households.
Canada Post president Deepak Chopra wrote on the corporation’s web site that digital communication has eaten away at its core business.
“By 2012, we delivered one billion fewer pieces of mail than we did just six years earlier,” he said. “Cost reductions across our operations in recent years have helped, but fundamental changes were required to avoid large financial losses.”
Becoming the first post office in the world to phase out home delivery “was not a decision taken lightly,” he said.
The corporation spent two years analyzing all options, Chopra said. Alternatives put forward since December’s announcement, such has getting into banking as some other postal services do, or reducing delivery days, weren’t considered feasible.
Community mailboxes, he said, “have stood the test of time for millions of Canadian households.” They’re more secure than unlocked home boxes and cost half as much to service.