Esquimalt–Juan de Fuca MP Randall Garrison speaks with citizens concerned about the expansion of Canada Post’s community mailbox program at the Pilgrim Coffee House in Colwood Saturday.

Esquimalt–Juan de Fuca MP Randall Garrison speaks with citizens concerned about the expansion of Canada Post’s community mailbox program at the Pilgrim Coffee House in Colwood Saturday.

Community mailbox plan ‘not a done deal,’ MP says

Garrison says community still in uproar over program’s implementation, claims it’s not too late to turn back

Randall Garrison doesn’t see the expansion of Canada Post’s community mailbox program as being “a done deal.”

The Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca MP met with concerned members of the public on Saturday at Pilgrim Coffee House in Colwood, to speak with them about the continued implementation of the controversial program on the West Shore.

“Everybody hates this idea,” Garrison said of the program, which aims to replace home delivery for hundreds of homes with large centralized mailboxes. “I’ve been talking to people about it for a long time; on every doorstep and during every conversation, people tell me they just hate it.”

He cited one particular citizen who is awaiting hip surgery and has mobility issues, as a resident who will be unable to walk to and from the community box.

Garrison claimed that the woman was told she could apply to remain on home delivery, but was denied.

That, he said, shows the process for implementation is flawed because Canada Post only accepts the feedback “that gives them the answers they want to hear.”

“And it’s not only the inconvenience of it, but also the safety issues in regards to where they put these boxes, as well as the security of the mail itself.”

He pointed to the theft of two entire community mailboxes in December in Surrey as an example of the lack of security. In that incident, the large side-by-side units were uprooted and hauled away by thieves. It was estimated that mail from 30 homes was stolen along with the boxes that day.

Garrison also disputed Canada Post’s assertion that no positions will be lost in the transition to community boxes.

In a Jan. 14 story, Canada Post spokesperson Anick Losier told the Gazette, “any reduction in the number of positions (will) be done by attrition.”

Garrison said that is profoundly different from, “no positions will be eliminated.”

“Canada Post likes to say they’re not cutting any jobs because of this,” he said, “which may be technically true, but they’re certainly not creating any more when the people there’re going to move around retire. That’s the equivalent of eliminating those good-paying, family-supporting jobs from our community.”

In Langford alone, the number of community mailboxes serviced by Victoria Depot 4 on Station Avenue is set to almost double this year, from 5,037 addresses to 9,525. The process, including prospective locations for the boxes, is currently in the consultation stage with the various municipalities.

Garrison says that if the government changes before the program is fully implemented – and there’s an election coming before they could possibly complete the process – there’s nothing legislated  saying it would have to continue.

mdavies@goldstreamgazette.com