A theft of a pair of community mailboxes in South Surrey highlights the need to retain door-to-door delivery, says the local president of the union representing letter carriers.
“We think it’s important that people… be aware there’s problems with these boxes,” said Stephen Gale, a South Surrey resident and head of the Fraser Valley West local of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers. “There’s safety issues, there’s security issues – there’s just so many problems with these boxes.”
And while Canada Post spokesman Eugene Knapik confirms that the Lower Mainland is experiencing “by far the highest incidence of vandalism on our street furniture,” he defended the use of such mailboxes as one aspect of adapting to the change in the way Canadians are using the mail service.
As well, “mailboxes at people’s homes are typically not locked,” Knapik noted.
Last Thursday, thieves made off with two heavy-steel mailboxes from the 16900-block of 28 Avenue. Gale estimates mail for as many as 30 addresses disappeared along with them. He said area residents he spoke with the next day were clearly frustrated.
“The people driving by… they were stopping and going on about how mad they were,” Gale said, noting the thefts took place the same day Canada Post announced the impending end of door-to-door service in Ladner.
Knapik said that while many new areas are being converted to community-mailbox delivery, the system itself has been in use across Canada for about 30 years.
“We are going through a period of fairly rapid change right now,” he said.
Knapik said efforts are ongoing to further enhance security of the mailboxes. He encouraged those served by them to be sure to collect their mail daily, and to immediately report suspicious activity to police.
One other mail-delivery change that has caused apparent grief in South Surrey/White Rock is a switch last month to a “wave” system of delivery, whereby carriers are setting out on their routes in two batches, two hours apart, and must combine the various types of mail – letters, flyers, packages – as they go.
Gale said space limitations created by the addition of new “sortation cases” led to the change, which took effect Nov. 17 and is “impacting the service for sure.”
In addition to reports of late or undelivered mail, Gale said the switch has led to a rash of carrier injuries, 10 in the first three weeks, just in South Surrey/White Rock.
“Right before Christmas, to have this new system thrown at the letter carriers in White Rock is no good,” he said.
Knapik pointed to the evolution of how Canadians are using the mail service, including sending fewer letters and more parcels; the latter “has everything to do” with online shopping. He said anyone with concerns about delivery should call 1-866-607-6301.