Canada Post goes to court to strike down Hamilton bylaw

Canada Post has gone to court to try to get the city of Hamilton's bylaw dictating where it can put super mailboxes declared invalid.

City of Hamilton has already laid 8 charges against the corporation and its contractors

Workers from DICAM Landscaping in Binbrook lay a concrete pad for a future Canada Post super mailbox on Thursday. Canada Post asked Ontario Superior Court on Friday morning to declare a new city bylaw invalid. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

Canada Post has struck back at the city of Hamilton's legal attempts to dictate where the corporation can put super mailboxes.

The corporation is asking Ontario Superior Court to declare a new city bylaw around community mailboxes invalid, saying it is acting out of "urgent need to transform the postal business."

This really is about who are the stewards of municipal right of ways and who should be setting those standards.- Ward 8 Councillor Terry Whitehead

The Canada Post action is the latest escalation in the super mailbox fight, coming after the city laid  8 charges against the corporation for continuing the installations, contrary to the city's new rules.

The city's newly amended bylaw says Canada Post has to pay a $200 fee and get the city's input on where on municipal property it can put community mailboxes, which are part of a plan to phase out urban door-to-door mail delivery nationwide. 

Competing court applications

But Canada Post says it doesn't have to follow the Roads Installation-Equipment Bylaw, and has continued installing community mailboxes on the Mountain anyway. The city applied for a restraining order this week to force crews to stop installing them, which should be before the courts on May 8. Canada Post struck back on Friday morning by asking the court to declare the bylaw invalid.

"Canada Post regrets that court action is required to address the recent impasse regarding the installation of community mailboxes," it said in a statement.

The city, meanwhile, has already laid eight charges under its new law. The charges are around three mailboxes at two locations in the city, said spokesperson Ann Lamanes. 

It has also issued stop-work orders against Canada Post, as well as SNC Lavalin and Mcman Construction, which are contractors doing the work for Canada Post.

"From an municipal law enforcement perspective, our commitment to enforce on these particular incidents has been met," Lamanes said in an email. "However, bylaw officers will continue to monitor and enforce as needed to provide continuity and attention to this matter."

Canada Post plans to phase out door-to-door delivery for 117,000 Hamilton homes over the next five years. City council has passed several votes disagreeing with the plan.

Stewards of the right of way?

Coun. Terry Whitehead of Ward 8 has been one of the most vocal councillors against the plan. Canada Post lacked transparency and community consultation when it rolled out his plan, he said.

But that's not even his main concern as it pertains to the bylaw.

"This really is about who are the stewards of municipal right of ways and who should be setting those standards," he said.

Jon Hamilton, spokesperson for Canada Post, says the Crown corporation did plenty of community consultation when it chose locations for mailboxes.

It has met "repeatedly" with city officials to get input and update them, he said. That includes maps of proposed locations. But the work has to go ahead.