Canada Post can charge fees to builders, public
By: Viola Pruss
| Posted: Wednesday, Mar 20, 2013 06:00 am
People buying homes in new neighbourhoods in St. Albert will get a postal box whether they want one or not – and pay $200 for it to boot.
Canada Post put the postal box activation fee in place on Jan. 1. The charge covers the costs of setting up community mailboxes in new residential developments.
That’s one bill per house, charged to the builders who then pass it on to buyers.
Asked what happens if people don’t want to pay the fee, possibly because they do all their communication by computer, Canada Post spokesperson Jon Hamilton said the installation of the boxes comes long before anyone moves into a new development.
“We have a mandate where we are to serve all Canadians but to do so in a financially sustainable manner, we have to pay our own bills,” said Hamilton.
“Just talk to anyone who doesn’t get the service for any period of time what they think of that.”
Canada Post can charge developers and the public for new services if necessary, as directed by the Canada Post Act.
But the Crown Corporation always looks at what is fair and reasonable, said Hamilton.
He added the fee adds a small portion to the overall selling price of a home, and could be considered another utility like electricity, gas or water.
Canada Post is no longer able to cover the full cost of the box installations and was looking at a partial recovery, he said.
“We are installing it as part of a full service,” he said.
“We have the right to charge an honest fee for the installation given that it’s not us that are adding new addresses to the system. It’s the developers.”
A 2011 report by the corporation said the average annual cost per address to service group mailboxes, community mailboxes and kiosks was $117. The average cost per address for door-to-door delivery in 2011 was $269.
Hamilton would not say how much it costs to put the boxes in place, only that it was above and beyond a couple of hundred dollars per house.
“It costs us more to hook that up. We could charge more but we are not,” he said.
“And don’t expect that $200 is out of line especially when held against some of the other costs that come with hooking up a home to existing networks.”
In a previous interview with the Gazette, Hamilton said mail has been in decline in the last six years as more people move to electronic alternatives.
That causes Canada Post revenues to drop while new developments add up to 150,000 new homes to service every year.
Only a third of all households in Canada – about five million homes – receive door-to-door delivery. The rest find their mail in centrally located mailboxes, some rural mailboxes and community mailboxes.
Canada Post is still responsible for providing the mailboxes and the concrete pads on which they sit, as well as snow clearing and equipment repairs.
Its website says the fee will not apply to new high-rise apartment or condo buildings.