Postal program freeze a relief for Oak Bay

Canada Post has suspended its program to convert door-to-door mail delivery to community mailboxes

To the relief of Oak Bay residents, Canada Post suspended its program to convert door-to-door mail delivery to community mailboxes. But that freeze leaves questions for neighbouring communities.

The Crown corporation announced Monday (Oct. 26) it’s “temporarily suspending” deployment pending discussions with the incoming government “to determine the best path forward given the ongoing challenges faced by the Canadian postal system.”

“It’s welcome news. One of the concerns I know council and many of our residents had was this was being done without consultation with communities such as ours,” said Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen. While the municipal council hadn’t been approached yet, they heard rumblings the community mailbox program was “rolling in.”

“Now that things are on hold it would provide an opportunity to engage Canada Post. If they want to continue with the program, one of the things we have continually requested is our community be consulted about the impact it has on us here,” Jensen said.

Top considerations for Oak Bay include placement and criteria for determining ideal locations.

“Canada Post didn’t come to the table during our official community plan review … we’ll want to go back to that plan to see the imposition of these super mailboxes would impact our streetscapes, which we’ve heard from our residents is really important to our neighbourhoods,” Jensen said.

Effect on the streetscapes, traffic and garbage continue to be high priorities if the program gets a restart.

“There’s also a concern for safety. Where would these be placed so as not to be safety hazards from a traffic point of view and a pedestrian point of view?” Jensen said.

Canada Post said it was attempting to put the program on hold in an “orderly fashion” for the roughly 460,000 addresses across the country currently in the process of converting to community mailboxes.

“The announcement is one I welcome. That they’re going to suspend the program … is good news for Oak Bay, Fairfield and James Bay,” said MLA Murray Rankin. “It’s the other ones that are mid-way through the process like Vic West that I’m worried about.”

“I agree it’s good news. The Liberals and NDP are aligned that this is a misguided policy by Canada Post.”

Canada Post said in neighbourhoods where the conversion process is complete, customers will collect mail and parcels at their community mailbox. That process is already underway in the V9A postal code – Vic West and Esquimalt – part of Rankin’s riding.

“They’re going to get a letter over the next few weeks apparently advising them of their mail service,” Rankin said. “There was no announcement of return of home delivery to those who have lost it already …  that’s the punchline for me.”

He hopes Canada Post will revisit revenue-generating initiatives suggested during the previous government. “I want to make sure I work with this government to see if some of those revenue-generating ideas might bear fruit,” Rankin said.