Door-to-door delivery back up for discussion
Wednesday, Feb 22, 2017 06:00 am
The federal government is considering reinstating door-to-door mail delivery, a decision that has sparked mixed feelings in St. Albert.
The government is seeking to reinstate door-to-door delivery in places that switched to community boxes after Aug. 3. Since St. Albert fully converted to the new system Aug. 17, areas like Grandin and Sturgeon could see a return of home delivered mail.
Some residents have gotten used to picking up their mail in secure boxes on their own schedule. Others say it is safer for them if the mail carrier delivers directly to their door.
Janet Rolfson, resident of St. Albert for 41 years, says she feels community mailboxes are the way to go and she hopes they don’t go back to home delivery.
Residents who were in favour of the community boxes said they felt more secure knowing their mail was stowed away securely, not littered around their front door telling people no one is home. Some said that they felt it was a waste of money having a mail carrier come to their door each day, when the majority of their mail comes in electronic form.
However, those who were in favour of door-to-door delivery said they felt it was safer than braving the icy walkways to fetch their mail. Some miss the face-to-face interaction with the mail carrier.
Resident Kristin Kat favours home mail delivery. She moved with her family to St. Albert in 2010 so that her mother, who is a senior, could live with them.
She says the harsh winters have made it difficult for her mother to get the mail.
“My mom hates it,” she explains. “She likes to shop online. She has lupus and a couple other autoimmune issues and knee problems and she is petrified of falling in the winter times here, and she has.”
While Kat will get the mail regularly, sometimes she misses an online purchase. Her mother will then either brave the weather or wait an extra day for Kat to collect her item.
Some residents added that they liked the security of knowing a carrier would be checking on them daily.
Tara Burnett, Seniors’ Outreach Coordinator for the St. Albert Seniors Association has another perspective. She says the community mailboxes have increased seniors’ sense of community.
Not only did they “like watching the neighbours go by and get their mail” to keep up with the neighbourhood, seniors said they enjoyed new interactions.
“They have met their neighbours getting the mail and feel more connected to the neighbourhood,” Burnett said.
The federal public services minister met with Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) on Feb. 9 to discuss the possible transition. CUPW estimates that it would cost about $50-million to restore services, but claims taxpayers would not be burdened with the cost as Canada Post is self-sustaining.
The agency says they have already realized $80-million in savings since switching over to community mailboxes. The corporation said it could save up to $450-million annually by converting five thousand homes to community boxes, the Globe and Mail reported earlier this month.
Terri Polowick says if there weren’t so many issues with the community mailboxes, she would be in favour of them. She adds that she misses the sense of community she had with her carrier and her community.
“I miss the sense of community. I feel like this was a big part of bringing the community together,” she says.
Wally Monson, St. Albert resident for 28 years, says he disagrees with the transition backwards.
“My mail every day was typically junk mail and bills, so I could wait for three or four days. I thought it was a waste of money having a mailman come around here every day … I thought it was a fabulous move to go to (community) mail boxes.”
Karen McGuire, a mail carrier for Canada Post in St. Albert, says the possible switch has her ‘sitting on the fence’.
“I’ve been doing this for 30 years now, and I have to admit the (community mailboxes) have been a lot easier on my body. There are way less injuries,” she says.
When she was delivering door-to-door, she says some people wouldn’t shovel their walkways, making mail delivery hazardous in the wintertime. McGuire says there were situations when she slipped and fell on the ice.
On the other hand, McGuire says she misses the face-to-face interactions that came with the job.
“The letter-carriers are the face of Canada Post and they took that away in St. Albert, we don’t have that contact anymore,” she explains.
McGuire says 15 jobs were cut in St. Albert when the agency decided to move to community boxes in 2015. She says going back to the ‘old system’ would bring back employees.