British Columbia

Residential towers receive piles of packages as more people shop online

As more people turn to online shopping to avoid busy malls this Christmas because of COVID-19, residential buildings are seeing significant growth in the number of parcels being delivered.

Some buildings are receiving 100 packages a day, says area manager

A FedEx employee sorts through multiple packages to be delivered in downtown Vancouver. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Brown paper packages, white plastic envelopes and large cardboard boxes are spilling beyond the confines of mailrooms and storage rooms at residential buildings throughout the Lower Mainland. 

With more people turning to online shopping since the beginning of the pandemic, and the year's biggest shopping events clustered within these final weeks of the year, one building manager says the volume of deliveries is presenting new challenges.  

"Generally most buildings have seen about 100 per cent increase in packages this year alone since the COVID-19 pandemic started," said Matthew Scott, an area manager with FirstService Residential, which manages more than 400 buildings in the Lower Mainland. 

Some buildings are receiving 70 to 100 packages a day and Scott expects that number will only go up with deliveries from Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas still to come. 

Scott says front-desk staff in the buildings have learned to be efficient, but processing each package still takes a few minutes. The packages have to be entered into a computer system, which tracks them and notifies residents that their deliveries have arrived. This is done on top of everything else staff have to manage, including approving visitors and overseeing tradespeople.

Buildings that accept packages for residents are seeing a dramatic increase in the number of parcels arriving each day. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

"You've got the daily machinations of running a building going on: people looking for trades, people being locked out, people moving, you know, all those other things going on, you need to get these packages out of the way," he said. 

He says some buildings were receiving so many packages their strata councils decided the concierge would no longer accept parcels, while others put restrictions on the size and weight of packages they will accept.

Some higher-end buildings that had the budget decided to hire a dedicated staff person just to handle deliveries.

"That's all the person does, is receive packages and be prepared to hand them out," said Scott. 

Canada Post is expecting a significant increase in holiday packages this year due to COVID-19. In response, it's adding 4,000 temporary seasonal employees and increasing its fleet by more than 1,000 vehicles. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Canada Post is expecting a significant increase in parcel volumes this holiday season. As a result, it's hiring 4,000 more temporary seasonal employees and adding 1,000 vehicles to its fleet.

It's advising people to shop early for their own peace of mind as well as to help retailers, delivery companies, and Canada Post deliver the packages in time. 

As for how residents can help front-desk staff with the mountain of online shopping packages, Scott advises picking up parcels as soon as possible.

"Residents can be really helpful with us if they can collect their packages as soon as they get the notification or within 24 hours. You know, that just allows us to free up that space a little bit more."

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