Canada Post will phase out home delivery of mail in urban areas in a new bid to cut costs.
Many newer suburban neighbourhoods in the Lower Mainland already have community mailboxes.
But the Crown corporation says the remaining one third of Canadian households that still get home delivery will be switched to community mailboxes or grouped or lobby mailboxes over the next five years.
It cites declining use of postal mail – a billion fewer pieces of mail were delivered last year compared to 2006 – as households shift to online bill payments and other digital communication.
The price of stamps will also go up from 63 to 85 cents each if bought in booklets, or $1 for individual stamps.
It means up to 8,000 fewer postal workers will be needed, which Canada Post says will be shed by attrition, as nearly 15,000 workers are expected to retire or leave voluntarily over the next five years.
“With its current labour costs, Canada Post has a much higher cost structure than its competitors in the private sector have,” Canada Post said in a press release. “This is simply not sustainable.”
The reduced workforce and other changes are expected to save a combined $700 to $900 million per year.
A Conference Board of Canada report last spring found Canada Post would face losses of $1 billion a year by 2020 without major reform.
Reaction has been mixed but one concern being raised is that many more banks of community mailboxes will be vulnerable to mail theft by identity thieves.
There have been ongoing mail theft reports in communities like Belcarra that already have the clustered group boxes, as well as newly developed areas of Surrey, particularly Clayton.
Surrey resident Craig Findlay says the community mailbox in his Fleetwood neighbourhood was broken into repeatedly and says Canada Post must make them more secure before converting the remaining urban neighbourhoods.
“It’s going to be an exercise in futility as far as I’m concerned,” Findlay said. “They should try it in one or two places and find out for themselves how bad it’s going to be.”
Findlay said Canada Post is right to seek ways to stop losing money.
But he said it might be smarter to reduce home delivery to every second or third day, or else put group boxes in publicly accessible indoor areas such as malls, until mail thieves can be thwarted.
Belcarra Mayor Ralph Drew said Canada Post has hardened the community boxes somewhat with anti-pry devices so they are less vulnerable to theft.
“It’s not as bad as it was,” he said, but added mail theft from the boxes remains a continuing problem throughout the Tri-Cities.
“If somebody’s determined, they’re going to get in.”
Drew said the complete transition away from door-to-door home delivery was predictable and inevitable.
“Home delivery people really been subsidized by the other two thirds of the Canadian public in terms of the cost of the system.”