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City already looking at fining Canada Post under new super mailbox law

It’s been less than 24 hours, and already the city of Hamilton is looking at charging Canada Post under a new law that dictates where the corporation can install super mailboxes.
Workers from DICAM Landscaping from Binbrook lay a concrete pad for a future Canada Post super mailbox on Thursday. The city is looking at fining Canada Post under a new law it passed on Wednesday that's drawing national attention. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

It's been less than 24 hours, and already the city of Hamilton is looking at charging Canada Post under a new law that dictates where the corporation can install super mailboxes.

A contractor is working on the west Mountain Thursday, laying concrete pads for future community mailboxes. This comes one day after city council passed a new law saying Canada Post has to pay $200 to apply for a community mailbox location — a rule Canada Post says it doesn't have to follow.

City bylaw and legal officials are investigating, said Coun. Terry Whitehead of Ward 8. There could be charges — though the city hasn't issued any enforcement-related orders on Canada Post just yet.

Installing mailboxes the day after the bylaw amendment "is very cavalier, and it's unfortunate that's how they want to proceed," he said of Canada Post.

The newly amended bylaw is the latest effort by city council to stop Canada Post from phasing out urban door-to-door mail delivery. Previous efforts have included three resolutions and a letter to the federal government.

It's very cavalier, and it's unfortunate that's how they want to proceed.- Coun. Terry Whitehead

Municipalities across Canada are passing resolutions and public meetings, but Hamilton is the first to pass a law of this kind, said Denis Lemelin, president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.

Hamilton council passed the law special meeting on Wednesday to amend its Roads-Equipment Installation Bylaw, which now says that the corporation must pay the city $200 to inspect the location.

But Canada Post says it doesn't have to follow it. The Canada Post Corporation Act trumps the city's bylaw, spokesperson Jon Hamilton.

City legal staff disagree with that assessment. The bylaw and the act "are not mutually exclusive," said city solicitor Janice Atwood-Petkovski.

With the new law, city bylaw officials could charge the local contractor installing the mailboxes, as well as Canada Post, Whitehead said.

"The contractor is being caught in this sandwich," he said.

Hamilton's bold move is unique, Lemelin said. But he foresees other cities taking similar steps.

"What Hamilton did, they did their work," he said. "They evaluated the impact of the issue. This is happening more and more."

"It's a political fight, and we'll win that fight."

Jon Hamilton told the CBC on Thursday that he wasn't aware of any charges being laid. The work is continuing, he said.

Canada Post says it surveyed about 36,000 homes on the Mountain about community mailbox locations. The effort to phase out door-to-door delivery for 117,000 urban Hamilton homes will roll out over five years. 

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