Residents irritated by sudden halt to mail service
Residents in parts of Greater Sudbury will have to keep going downtown to get their mail at least until March 15, says a spokesperson for Canada Post.
The corporation hopes to have community boxes installed by then, offering people an alternative to making the 11-kilometre trek to the central post office on Lisgar Street.
About 80 households along sections of Southview Drive and Elm Street have been without home mail delivery since Feb. 6. A letter carrier made a health and safety complaint, saying traffic along in sections of those streets was too fast and heavy for home delivery to safely continue.
The affected residents are on Southview Drive between Stephen Street and Kelly Lake Road; on Elm Street between Ethelbert and Eyre streets; and, on Southview between Stephen Street and Bouchard Street.
Canada Post media relations officer Anick Losier said March 5 the corporation was legally obligated to halt home delivery as soon as it received a complaint related to health and safety.
“While we investigated, because of the high traffic (on Southview), we decided to send people downtown to the general delivery to pick up their mail,” Losier said.
“It does appear that on those sections of Southview and Elm, there is a very high volume of traffic. The vehicles are moving quite fast and it’s creating a safety hazard.”
The safety study determined traffic volumes are too high to maintain home delivery safely, so the affected areas will be moved to community mailboxes, she said.
“We’re just working with the city right now to determine where exactly they will go to ensure they will be safe for customers to go and pick up their mail, but so that it’s not too far, as well,” Losier said.
But Southview Drive resident Karen Turpin takes issue with the way Canada Post has handled things. She said picking up mail downtown – where there is no free parking and you have to show ID to get your mail – has created a real burden for people in the area.
To make matters worse, no mail was delivered for a week and a half before Canada Post managers showed up at the door with their mail in a bundle and to tell them they would have to go downtown until further notice.
“You don’t just show up at someone’s door and say, ‘Guess what? We’re not delivering mail to you anymore.’ That doesn’t make any sense to me,” Turpin said. “It’s absurd. We’re not in a rural area. We’re in the city limits. We pay taxes for this service. I just don’t get it.
“And then to demand that we have to go downtown to pick it up? There’s no alternate plan?”
She said it’s a hardship for seniors in the area who rely on mail service more than young people, who do their communicating via email.
“There are other elderly people on this street, it’s really sad,” she said. “My other neighbour is a widow – there’s no way she can go downtown to pick up her mail. And she relies on her mail. She’s not computer savvy or anything like that.”
Turpin said she can’t understand how mail service can stop so abruptly with no better plan in place than forcing people downtown. She says if they had switched them to the roadside boxes, she could have accepted that.
“I’m not crazy about the idea, but if I have to do it, I will,” she said. “But to have to go downtown to pick up my mail? You’ve got to be kidding. And I’ve got important documents coming my way – my health card, my driver’s licence. There are some things you can go through the computer to get.
“Canada Post, I know, is losing money left and right. I just can’t believe they would further destroy their relationship with the public.”
Ward 1 Coun. Joe Cimino, whose ward includes Southview, said he understands that Canada Post had to ensure the safety of its workers. But he can’t understand why a better option couldn’t have been found other than forcing people to go downtown.
“I think the residents deserve more communication than they have received,” Cimino said. “Can you imagine being at home and receiving a bundle of mail from a week and a half along with a note that says now you have to go downtown to pick up your mail on Lisgar?
“It was just so sudden. If there’s an investigation for health and safety, that’s understandable. But they don’t seem to have made any effort to make it easier for people by letting them pick up their mail in the South End somewhere – at a playground or at least at a site that has parking … I don’t think any thought was given on how to make this process easier on the residents.”
Cimino and Sudbury MP Glenn Thibeault are hosting an information session Saturday to update residents about what’s going on with the mail. It’s scheduled to begin at 11a.m. at Robinson Playground. They hope to have someone from Canada Post in attendance, he said.
For her part, Losier said there were no alternatives to downtown.
“That’s the closest post office, unfortunately,” she said. “If you look at the Canadian Postal Service Charter, that’s still within the standard, which is up to 15 kilometres.”
It's unfortunate that some people have trouble getting their mail or picking it up for someone else, but she said they need to ensure the integrity of the mail system by ensuring the mail is going to the right person.
“Listen, it hasn’t been the best situation. We understand that. We’re trying to make the best of a challenging situation. When there’s a safety concern, we don’t have a choice other than to investigate and to ensure the safety of our employees.”
Between now and the meeting Saturday, Losier said they’re sending out staff to meet with all affected customers on the route to explain to them what’s going on.
“And it’s my understanding that by March 15, the community boxes should be installed,” she said. “We’re working right now with the city to try and determine what would be the best area to locate them.
“We appreciate peoples’ patience and understanding. We’re trying right now to meet with each of them and answer all of their questions.”
Anyone with questions or concerns should call Canada Post’s customer service line, she said, at 1-866-607-6301.