Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Q/A with Canada Post over Installation of Super Mailboxes in Hamilton

The following is our Q/A with Canada Post's General Manager Jon Hamilton:

Hamiltonians are likely wondering about the ongoing difficulties between Canada Post and city of Hamilton local council with respect to the installation of super mailboxes. There being only one taxpayer, despite the multiple tiers of government, taxpayers are likely concerned about how our tax dollars are being spent with one level of government countering another over the mailbox issue. The simple solution would be for the Federal government to work very closely with the city, to respect its by-laws where these installations are concerned. Can you explain why that does not appear to be happening and can you provide any reassurance to the taxpayers of Hamilton that this stalemate of sorts will be sorted out quickly in the spirit of goodwill and responsible state craft?

Thank you for your inquiry. I would first like to point out that the move to community mailboxes, which is part of our plan to secure the future of postal service, was designed with the taxpayer in mind. Canada Post’s longstanding mandate is to serve every Canadian household while remaining financially self-sufficient. It’s an important balance which means no funding from the taxpayers to operate the postal service. That balance becomes more and more difficult with the amount of mail dropping each year. Last year alone we delivered 1.4 billion fewer letters than we did in 2006. When we held sessions across the country to talk about the issues we were facing, we heard loud and clear that Canadians wanted their postal service to change to meet their changing needs – while not becoming a drain on them as taxpayers.

Delivering mail to central locations such as community mailboxes is the best way to preserve the postal service for all Canadians. The reality is that two-thirds of Canadians do not have mail delivered to their door and will see no change to their delivery. That includes apartments and condos with lobby mailrooms, rural boxes and community mailboxes. Community mailboxes were introduced in the 1980’s and today serve roughly 4 million households, including 34,000 in Hamilton, each day. Those boxes were installed over many years by working constructively with municipalities and within the laws that govern postal service in Canada.

Canada Post therefore regrets that court action is required to address the recent impasse. Canada Post has the legal authority to install the boxes on municipally-owned property, however our approach is to do so in a thoughtful and consultative manner. The City of Hamilton was first advised of the intention to convert roughly 36,000 households to community mailbox delivery in June of 2014. Since that time, Canada Post has met repeatedly with city officials to try and seek input while keeping them aware of our progress. That included providing maps of proposed locations last fall, addressing constituent concerns and sharing the changes made based on the feedback of local residents.

The locations we are installing today have been chosen based on feedback we received from residents in each neighbourhood and longstanding guidelines that consider important factors such as safety, accessibility and proximity the households they will serve. Many changes have been made based on local feedback. We also understand the importance of a safe installation and we “call before we dig” to have any utility lines marked before beginning construction.

Digital alternatives are decimating the mail business and we’re seeing that trend pick up steam in 2015. We understand the changes we are making are not easy, but we must act with urgency to secure the postal service.

Jon Hamilton
General Manager
Canada Post


  1. It sounds like CP has done a decent job of consulting with stakeholders.I like the answer he gave.

  2. AnonymousMay 06, 2015

    "Can you explain why that does not appear to be happening and can you provide any reassurance to the taxpayers of Hamilton that this stalemate of sorts will be sorted out quickly in the spirit of goodwill and responsible state craft?"

    Excellent question. Not answered.

    1. M Adrian BrassingtonMay 06, 2015

      "Excellent question. Not answered."

      My take is that he can't 'reassure' Hamilton taxpayers that this stalemate of sorts will be sorted out quickly in the spirit of goodwill and responsible statecraft because CP is only one party in this imbroglio.

      He did a great job in framing this situation. (And absolutely reinforces what I recently said about CP and its future.) He explained what the backstory is from CP's point-of-view. He said all that he could have, or even should have.

      This 'stalemate' is one because residents don't like what's happened, and Council doesn't want to be seen as anything other than supportive of Hamiltonians.

      How about we ask the other two parties in this to explain why things have turned out the way they have? Let's hear from the residents and the City.

      I think that part of the problem here is that many people hear 'Canada Post' and subconsciously think 'Government'. Especially 'Harper Government'. (In the same way that many might hear 'postal workers' and think 'greedy union'.)

      Surely there are far more important things to be squabbling over.

  3. AnonymousMay 06, 2015

    Thanks for reaching out to Canada Post. It was interesting hearing their perspective. You are absolutely right that this has to be worked out and in a hurry because taxpayers have no patience for this. It's bad enough we are spending a whack of money suing the Feds over the Redhill. When taxpayers are put in the middle of this, both parties have to commit to resolving this. Good that you asked and hopefuly the city recognizes the urgency too.

  4. It sounds to me as though Canada Post has thought this out and have consulted. I am not sure why this is turning to be such a nasty exchange. Our city needs to respect the Feds on this and defer to their consultations.


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