Canada Post has sent letters to St. Albert residents about where they’re proposing the new community mailboxes, and residents seem to have mixed reactions.
For some, the change seems to be of little concern. Eric Daniels said he used a community mailbox before moving into St. Albert a few weeks ago, and isn’t too concerned about having to walk half a block to get his mail.
“I don’t understand all the fuss,” he said. “I don’t mind a bit of a walk.”
Others are less enthused about the changes, raising concerns about access for those with mobility issues and the elderly.
“It’s fine for me, but what about those with reduced mobility?” long-time resident Lisa Pedersen said.
Murray Barker, a local disability advocate who uses a wheelchair, said he hopes those making the decision will seriously consider the impacts on those who have trouble getting around and consult with the disabled.
He said he often sees special accommodations made for those with disabilities that aren’t thought through – like an automatic door button blocked somehow, a crossing-light button only accessible after a trip through the mud, or existing community mailboxes where the sidewalk ramp isn’t well placed.
“It’s fine and dandy if they make these things workable and accessible, but sometimes they just don’t,” he said.
Anick Losier, a spokeswoman for Canada Post, said the Crown corporation will address concerns of disabled residents on a case-by-case basis.
“If they have concerns about their accessibility, we have an accommodations program designed to really look at solutions built on their own personal circumstances,” she said.
Another concern raised elsewhere in the country is the effect on real estate values; Toronto realtor David Batori told the Financial Post last September that he was worried the boxes could lower property values. In St. Albert, that may not be a significant problem.
“I’ve never had somebody not purchase a property because there’s a mailbox adjacent to it,” local realtor James Mabey said.
“I’m pretty confident I can say a mailbox adjacent to somebody’s home is not going to influence the property value one way or the other.”
Losier said the Crown corporation is still on track to make the switch from home delivery to the community boxes by this summer, and they will continue public consultation throughout the process.
“Throughout the process, people who are directly affected are going to get between six and 10 pieces of mail, to walk them through each milestone,” she said.
The City of St. Albert has also made a small financial commitment to help optimize these mailbox locations, with council passing a motion Feb. 2 to put $25,000 aside to address any issues that may arise.
Greg Persson, Manager of Engineering Services, said that money is essentially a reserve to be used on an as-needed basis to help make the proposed box locations safer and more accessible.
“It could be sidewalk connections where there’s no sidewalk at a selected location,” he said. “It’s for pedestrian connectivity and to facilitate access to the boxes if required.”
He said city administration met with Canada Post in the fall and expressed three key parameters they would like to see considered in mailbox placement – safety for pedestrians and vehicles, privacy so that people getting their mail aren’t looking into someone’s front window, and a central location for the service zone.
Persson said of the proposed locations, only a small fraction – about a dozen – have caused any concern.
“There were some areas or locations that were selected that just required a bit more discussion or review for optimizing the placement,” he said.