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Canada Post invites input in location of community mailboxes

STELLARTON – If residents of New Glasgow and the Lourdes area of Stellarton want to have input into the location of new community mailboxes, it’s imperative that they complete surveys sent to them by Canada Post.

However, representatives of the Crown corporation told Stellarton town council earlier this week that the surveys aren’t about saving door-to-door delivery.

“It’s not whether they want it or not. This is a business decision that’s already made,” said Andy Paterson, manager of municipal engagement for Canada Post.

Paterson and his colleague James Bugbe made a presentation to councillors regarding the conversion from door-to-door delivery to community mailboxes (CMBs) for the B2H postal code, which is expected to take place by early 2016. It will be the first postal code in Nova Scotia outside of the Halifax Regional Municipality to receive the CMBs.

The visit was prompted by questions that arose from a presentation to council in June by members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.

Canada Post announced late in 2014 that it would end door-to-door delivery for four million addresses by 2019 as a cost-saving measure, as revenues shrink due to fewer people using the postal service to mail letters.

Paterson explained that it costs twice as much to deliver to the door compared with a centralized location, and said the dramatic decline in letter mail has come about as many large companies switch to electronic billing. “The new digital reality is killing our central core which is letter mail. That’s not coming back,” he said.

He said Canadians are sending fewer pieces of mail and the corporation is losing money. “We took a look into the future and if we don't make changes, we’ll have a billion dollar deficit by the end of the decade.”

He said labour costs remain high, and the changes being introduced will involve 6,000 to 8,000 positions across the country, with those positions being absorbed through attrition. “No full- or part-time employees will be laid off because of the changes.”

Paterson also addressed concerns from councillors, which included snow removal, vandalism, theft and site locations.

Paterson said the new CMBs are designed to be more secure and for any graffiti to be easily wiped off. Canada Post is responsible for clearing snow around the CMBs and under normal circumstances, aims to have that completed by 9 a.m. daily.

He also reassured councillors that municipal staff would be involved in the process to help find the best locations for the CMBs.

Bugbe said safety and security are taken into account, and the CMBs are located as much as possible so as to be unobtrusive. In other areas of the country that have been converted, Paterson said “almost overwhelmingly people want smaller sites closer to their homes.”

In the Town of Stellarton, Canada Post will convert 184 residential addresses in the Lourdes area, anticipating this will involve six to eight CMB sites. The majority of Stellarton residents receive their mail through boxes at the post office.

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