Former Saint John letter carrier persistent in recording 'dangerous' Canada Post shortcuts
Letter carriers in Saint John suburb put people at risk, says former Canada Post worker
A former letter carrier has taken it upon himself to doggedly document Canada Post staff cutting corners as they deliver mail throughout his east Saint John neighborhood.
George Smith says he's caught letter carriers, now also called delivery agents, driving down suburban streets on the wrong side of the road, as well as driving while using their cellphones.
Last year Smith's persistence in photographing one mail carrier driving the route resulted in her calling police to report a man that had "creeped" her out.
Smith said his biggest concern is that the carriers are no longer parking their vehicles to hand-deliver mail door to door. Instead, he said, they are driving their vehicles into each and every driveway, leading them to back onto streets hundreds of times a day.
"It's dangerous," he said. "This is a school area, there's a lot of children."
Smith has documented dozens of cases over the past three years of drivers backing out of driveways in his Lakewood neighborhood.
He said the carriers are ignoring the mandated "park and loop" system, which he had to follow during 28 years as a Canada Post employee.
"Park and loop" requires carriers to leave their vehicle to hand deliver mail to several homes before moving on to deliver in another area of the neighbourhood.
Smith said that repeatedly backing in and out of driveways, especially with snowbanks on the way, is a recipe for an accident.
"There's one individual, going in frontward, backing across the street into another house, in the school zone," said Smith. "It gets frustrating."
Last year Smith's persistence led to a mail carrier calling the police.
As Smith photographed a carrier parked in a driveway making a delivery, he said, she yelled at him that she was "creeped out" and called police.
Smith said no police ever showed up at his door or questioned him about the matter.
He has filed complaints with Canada Post and its ombudsman, who agreed letter carriers are supposed to follow the park and loop system in Lakewood. The corporation is investigating.
Canada Post reminds staff
"As the delivery route in your area is structured as a 'park and loop', this means that delivery agents must park the vehicle at the curb, load their satchels and walk the area," Beth Lambert, director of investigations for the ombudsman's office, wrote to Smith after his complaints.
"If there are oversized parcels for individual addresses, delivery agents are allowed to move their vehicle to the actual address and park in the street and/or near the end of the driveway and walk to the door with the parcel. Delivery agents can use a dolly, if required.
"As a result of your appeal, local management has once again reminded all delivery agents of the importance of adhering to delivery procedures."
After he got that response, Smith said, driver habits improved for a short time but quickly worsened again.
CBC News requested an interview with Canada Post but received an email instead.
"Our employees are expected to follow the rules of the road as well as our internal driving policies at all times," wrote Darcia Kmet, a spokesperson for Canada Post. "We are following up internally."
"We talk to our employees regularly about safety and remind them of our corporate policies and delivery procedures," wrote Kmet.
The Canadian Union of Postal Workers would not speak about the allegations against its members.
"CUPW cannot not comment on individual cases," wrote Farouk Karim, a spokesperson for the union. "It's up to Canada Post to choose how to follow up on claims like these."
But Smith said officials have repeatedly promised to address the problems he describes, but nothing has changed.
"It's laziness, that's all it is, really," he said. "It's laziness. Just stop it before somebody gets hurt."
"That's all I want is just for them to stop doing it. Get out and walk."