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Keep Canada Post super mailboxes out of Hamilton: council

The city of Hamilton doesn’t control Canada Post, but it’s going to do everything it can to make it hard for the corporation to cancel door-to-door mail service.
Terry Langley of Canadian Union of Postal Workers local 548 urged councillors on Thursday to do whatever they can to prevent large community mailboxes in Hamilton. The mailboxes replace door-to-door service. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

The city of Hamilton doesn’t control Canada Post, but it’s going to do everything it can to make it hard for the corporation to cancel door-to-door mail service.

City councillors say they’ll look into what bylaws they can pass to make it all but impossible for Canada Post to install its new community mailboxes designed to replace door-to-door service in Hamilton.

“I hope this kind of public pressure will force Canada Post to reexamine its position,” said Coun. Terry Whitehead of Ward 8. “While it may seem like a done deal, it is a public grassroots effort that’s pushing back.”

Councillors will vote at the next general issues committee meeting for staff to report back with ways the city can make it difficult for Canada Post to install the communal mailboxes.

Canada Post announced in December that it would switch from door-to-door delivery to community mailboxes as part of a five-point plan. The switch is necessary for the corporation to continue providing postal services for all Canadians, it said.

But at a committee meeting Thursday, nearly all councillors spoke in favour of playing hard ball through methods such as forbidding the mailboxes on municipal land.

The city does have authority over road allowances and rights of way, said city solicitor Janice Atwood-Petkovski. And recent case law shows the city can put its foot down when it’s worried about resident safety.

Given that mailboxes in other cities are in areas with a lot of snow and ice, Whitehead said, safety is a concern.

The city can also refuse to sign a document allowing the mailboxes on municipal land, said Terry Langley, acting president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers local 548.

“Exercise all the options at your disposal to oppose the elimination of door to door delivery in Hamilton,” he said.

Canada Post has met with Hamilton's mayor and some of its councillors in the last few months to talk about the change, Canada Post spokesperson John Hamilton said.

The corporation has encountered cities who were resistant to the change, he said, but none that have actively passed laws to prevent the mailboxes.

"We've had some say, 'We disagree with the changes that you’re making,'" he said. "Then we explain that our core business — mail — is declining because Canadians are putting less mail in the system, so we have to adjust or put a drain on the taxpayers."

Hamilton has nearly 200,000 addresses, Hamilton said. About half of those get door-to-door service. About 34,000, most in newer subdivisions, already have community mailboxes.

Hamilton Mountain will get community mailboxes next spring. The rest of Hamilton will follow suit over the next five years. It will not impact people in condos or apartments.

The standard community mailboxes serve about 16 households, Hamilton said. But the size of the local ones will depend on resident feedback.

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