Hamilton and Canada Post in a standoff over super mailboxes

Hamilton city council wants to charge Canada Post for installing super mailboxes and control where they are located. Canada Post says it can do what it wants to when it comes to mailboxes.

Council voted to charge Canada Post $200 for every community mailbox it installs in Hamilton

Canada Post says it doesn't need the city to approve the locations of its future super mailboxes on the Mountain. City legal staff disagree. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

Canada Post and the city of Hamilton appear headed for a legal showdown over installation of super mailboxes as the corporation phases out door-to-door mail delivery.

City council voted Wednesday to charge the corporation $200 for every community mailbox it installs in Hamilton — the only Canadian city so far to do so. The amended bylaw also dictates that the corporation work with the city on future mailbox locations. If Canada Post doesn't comply, the city can issue a fine.

But Canada Post says it doesn't have to play by the city's rules. Spokesperson Jon Hamilton said in a statement that Canada Post has "exclusive jurisdiction" over where to put the mailboxes.

And the new rules the city passed — an amended version of the Roads-Equipment Installation Bylaw – contravene federal mail delivery regulations, he said.

This is precedent setting and we need to stand our ground.- Coun. Terry Whitehead

"Canada Post has exclusive jurisdiction over postal services in Canada and the legal authority to install community mailboxes on municipally owned property," he said.

It has this right, he said, under the Canada Post Corporation Act. And the bylaw amendments conflict with that.

The city doesn't think so. And as of Wednesday, it says, Canada Post has to pay $200 per mailbox to cover the city's costs as it pertains to assessing and servicing the sites.

Coun. Terry Whitehead of Ward 8 says a municipality needs to stand up to the Canada Post plan.

"This is precedent setting and we need to stand our ground," he said. 

If Canada Post doesn't comply with the city bylaw, "there will be charges for it and there will be fines for it," he said.

"We will charge them and it will be determined through the courts."

It's the latest in a series of measures Hamilton city council has tried to discourage Canada Post from installing super mailboxes. It has already passed three motions against the plan and written a letter to the federal government.

But the process has already started on the Mountain, where Canada Post is mapping out locations for mailboxes to serve about 36,000 residents. It will phase out door-to-door service for 117,000 Hamilton residents over the next five years. 

Eventually, Canada Post will phase out most urban door-to-door mail delivery across the country.

Hamilton's $200 fee is necessary, in part, to pay for a full-time city staff member for four years to investigate the mailbox sites, a staff report says. 

Canada Post has been working on the plan to phase out much of the door-to-door delivery in Hamilton since last June. It mailed surveys to 36,000 residents and knocked on nearly 2,000 doors on the Mountain to determine locations, the corporation said.


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