More Canada Post mailbox foundations to be removed, Montreal official says
Law professor says the Crown corporation had right to install concrete slab
Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre's destruction of the concrete slab foundation of a community mailbox in l'Anse-à-l'Orme nature park on Thursday may be just the beginning in a battle between the city and Canada Post.
Dimitrios Jim Beis, mayor of the Montreal borough of Pierrefonds-Roxboro, said the city plans to remove more unwanted community mailboxes.
"They've placed these boxes throughout the territory in parks and green spaces, crescents, corner of streets and now we've finally discovered that they've put a base at the entrance of one of the nature parks, and have placed a box in a parking lot of another nature park, which to us was the last straw," Beis said.
"We are going to remove that one as well."
But hours later, at a news conference Friday morning, Coderre said he won't be removing the box for now, instead opting to see how Canada Post deals with the situation.
"I've made my political point, I think I was pretty clear yesterday. So I won't go around everywhere."
In Montreal, borough mayors have jurisdiction within their own boroughs, but it is the city's executive committee, led by Coderre, that has final say on matters to do with the whole city of Montreal, which is made up of 19 boroughs.
Destruction 'doesn't appear legal'
Coderre's jackhammering of a concrete slab was a protest against what he says is a lack of consultation with the city as Canada Post moves from door-to-door service to community mailboxes.
University of Toronto law professor John Mascarin said that, while what Coderre did on Thursday will likely appeal to the public, it was probably illegal.
"Anything that's in the Cities and Towns Act or anything that's in the Montreal Act or charter would be subservient to federal legislation — in this case, the Canada Post Corporation Act and then the regulation under that, gives Canada Post the authority to go in and install or erect any receptacle in any public place," said Mascarin.
Coderre didn't appear worried.
"Some people ask me 'are you afraid to be sued?' Sue me. I don't care. But at the end of the day, I have to take a stand," he said.
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"It's a matter of fact that they're doing what they want, and then they try and piss in your ears and say, 'Oh don't worry, we are wishing to collaborate,' but at the end of the day, baloney, it's not working," he said.
Canada Post issued a statement on Friday morning in response to the mayor's action.
"We are always willing to work with municipalities to find the best locations and discuss any concerns. Our goal is to find sites that are safe, accessible and convenient for the households in each neighbourhood. We would be happy to discuss any suggestions they may have for alternative locations," the statement said.
On Thursday, Coderre said the Crown corporation moved to erect community boxes in Parc l'Anse-à-l'Orme without any authorization from the municipality, saying it was "totally disgraceful."
Flanked by City of Westmount Mayor Peter Trent, Southwest borough Mayor Benoit Dorais, Villeray–Saint-Michel–Parc-Extension Mayor Anie Samson and Beis, Coderre condemned Canada Post for what he called a total lack of consultation.
He said Canada Post's brazen community mailbox placements go against Montreal's urban planning procedures, and he'll have none of it.
"I think it's wrong the way they're acting," Coderre said. "They said they were consulting. Hello? Anybody home? They're doing what they want, savagely, and they're arrogant."
After he took a jackhammer to the slab of concrete, he announced he'd be sending the cost of the damage to Canada Post.
The former Liberal critic of Canada Post, David McGuinty, said anyone upset with the community boxes should blame the changes to Canada Post on the Harper government.
"This is not Canada Post's plan. It's a plan that was concocted in the PMO," he said.
Boxes called a public nuisance
Dorais, the Southwest borough mayor, said existing community mailboxes on his territory have already presented a number of problems, among them vandalism, theft and messiness. He said a set of boxes in particular were left in a sorry state for a year before media reports prompted Canada Post to clean up.
Beis said box security was a major factor, with reports of mail and parcels being stolen.
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Trent, the Westmount mayor, said he believes Canada Post is installing its new mailboxes on the outskirts of the Island first so it can gradually work its way into the core of the city, where there is more opposition to the end of door-to-door mail delivery.
"What I find most offensive about this whole business of Canada Post doing what it wants is that what we hear from the party in power is that it's a Crown corporation, there's nothing we can do," Trent said.
"Well it's time to lift the corporate veil and say, 'No, Canada Post is owned by us, the citizens, and the government represents us. And if we as citizens decide it's time to call a moratorium on this misguided policy, then Canada Post should listen.'"
The mayors are taking their fight against Canada Post to court, and have also asked to be part of a class-action suit against the Crown corporation as well.