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Town hall meeting to be held to oppose conversion to community mailboxes

THUNDER BAY – The next few months will be critical in deciding the future of mail delivery in the country.
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Community mailboxes, like this one on Hill Street, might become more common sights across the city over the next year as Canada Post plans to eliminate door-to-door mail delivery for 31,000 residents. (Matt Vis, tbnewswatch.com)

THUNDER BAY – The next few months will be critical in deciding the future of mail delivery in the country.

That’s the message from Joanne Nowosad, the local president for the Canadian Postal Workers Union, which is staging a town hall meeting on Thursday night to protest plans to further phase out door-to-door mail delivery.

“People are upset and rightfully so,” she said. “They don’t want to see the elimination of door-to-door delivery. They want mail delivered to their door.”

Canada Post in June announced plans to convert about 31,000 Thunder Bay residents to community mailboxes in 2016. Those living in addresses with a P7A, P7B, P7C and P7E postal code will be affected.

The conversion is part of a five-year, five-point action plan that Canada Post says will result in significant cost-savings and ensure the long-term self-sufficiency of mail delivery.

The company has said that any positions cut will be done through attrition.

There are about 225 postal workers in Thunder Bay. Nowosad said the union has been told they will be notified by Canada Post by the end of the month on how many positions will be eliminated by the conversion.

That’s concerning to MP John Rafferty (NDP, Thunder Bay-Rainy River), who insists no matter how it is presented, they are still cuts.

“The fact of the matter, if people are not being rehired, those positions are being left empty. In my books those are job losses,” he said.

The conversion has become a lightning road across the country. Some municipalities, such as Hamilton, have opposed Canada Post’s unilateral ability to select locations for the community mailboxes.

That hasn’t been much of an issue locally but both Nowosad and Rafferty are concerned about the security of confidential information that is delivered in the mail.

Nowosad said there have been documented incidents calling the security of community mailboxes into question. She pointed to a five-year period in British Columbia where there were 4,800 reported cases of vandalism, arson or theft.

There have been issues with the community mailboxes locally as about 100 individual mailboxes were broken into in the Woodcrest Road and Rosslyn Road areas last December. Residents in those areas had to retrieve their mail from the post office for more than two weeks.

Rafferty said the most frequent concern he hears from constituents involves the security of the mailboxes. He was contacted by a resident earlier Thursday who said his community mailbox had been targeted four times in the past three years.

Removing door-to-door delivery might have a significant impact on accessibility, especially during the winter when snow becomes a factor.

“If you’re a senior or disabled in some way these could cause a problem,” he said.

Nowosad is hoping door-to-door mail delivery will become an issue when ballots are cast in the federal election later this year.

The town hall meeting is an opportunity for members of the public to make themselves heard.

“I’m hoping there will be lots of people. This is their opportunity to ask questions, to hear our concerns and to voice their concerns,” Nowosad said.

The meeting will be held at the CLE Heritage Building beginning at 7 p.m.