WATCH ABOVE: City councillors are raising concerns about the size of the new community mailboxes and how they will fit into a dense urban environment. Mark McAllister reports.
TORONTO – The city’s planning and growth management committee will wrestle with whether or not Canada Post’s installation of super mailboxes in Toronto is appropriate for the dense urban environment.
The new boxes are coming in as part of the phasing out of Canada Post’s door-to-door mail delivery service by 2019.
A letter from councillor David Shiner is asking for city staff to report back to the planning committee in June on the impact they may have on land property and urban design.
Shiner told Global News Monday he thinks Canada Post’s proposal for Toronto streets is “ridiculous.”
“You’re talking about putting boxes out there for hundreds of homes,” said Shiner. “Where are you going to put it? On the street corner? Can’t stop, can’t park, it’s dangerous. Middle of the block, in front of somebody’s house? They’re going to have a massive mailbox and all the junk mail that comes with it?”
He said the city has worked hard to streamline and organize city streets, and Canada Post is throwing a wrench into the plans.
“We pride ourselves on having great streets and urban environments in the city of Toronto,” said Shiner. “We’ve gone through a process to improve it with our new waste bins, with controlling the signage on the side of the streets, with the corrals now for the newspaper boxes. And Canada Post is just going to come in here and try and put in these boxes that just don’t fit.”
Coun. Janet Davis said the residents of Toronto deserve to know Canada Post’s plans. She said she first heard from her local MP that her neighbourhood would be first on the lists to get the large community mail boxes.
“That’s what prompted me to start to question what are the timelines, what rights do they have, what rights do we as a city have,” said Davis. “What authority do we have to say we want input as to where these mailboxes go. And the experience in Hamilton clearly demonstrates that Canada Post doesn’t care at all what the municipality thinks.”
Last month the city of Hamilton was the first municipality in Canada to take Canada Post to court over the community mailboxes.
“I think we have a public interest to make sure that the residents of Toronto have as much information as possible and notice. And Canada Post has not been good at either consulting or being transparent and accountable.”
Canada Post spokesperson Jon Hamilton said consultations with municipalities and residents has always been a part of the process while rolling out the new mailboxes.
“It starts first by sending surveys with the municipality, and there is a lot of feedback, there is a lot of door knocking that is going on, to talk to people and find out the best locations until we finally get to a point where we are ready to install the boxes,” said Hamilton from Ottawa Monday. “Throughout that process we make changes, and we change between 25 to 30 per cent from where we start within the communities we’re doing today.”
He agrees dense urban neigbourhoods pose additional challenges, but said Canada Post is committed to finding solutions as new situations arise. He said it’s been a neighbourhood-by-neighbourhood process to address the unique need of every area.
“We have long standing safety guidelines,” said Hamilton, “set back from intersections and things like that. We also work with the local municipalities, and we talk to people at the street level to get a sense of what is going on on the street and look at locations and see if there’s a better option and we will look at options that are put forward.”
He also points out that maintenance of the boxes are Canada Post’s responsibility, when it comes to snow clearance “or anything like that.”
“If there’s ever an issue they should call us, and we will respond to that and make sure it’s cleaned up and accessible.”
There have been complaints about the location of the boxes in other communities across Canada.
Residents in Calgary recently had up to 700 mailboxes relocated following complaints the new spots will cause more congestion and safety concerns if placed in certain areas.
The City of Calgary is also looking into how Canada Post’s new community boxes will affect property values.
According to Canada Post, approximately 100,000 households were converted from door-to-door delivery to community mailbox delivery in 2014 and 900,000 households are slated for 2015.
“We reach out to every household for feedback months before conversion and keep them informed throughout the process,” said Canada Post in a March progress report.
“We also keep municipal officials informed and invite them to work with us.”
With files from Mark McAllister and Tania Kohut