Communal mail boxes under fire

Eric Sparling
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Locals say they’re an unsafe cost-cutting measure

Doug Bacon stands near a new Canada Post community mail box in Upper Nappan.

AMHERST – The locals will tell you it’s an unsafe spot.

A communal mailbox on Highway 2, just south of where Smith Road connects to the thoroughfare, is meeting with resistance from some local residents.

“How many seniors are going to be put in danger?” asked Doug Bacon, a farmer whose property has been impacted by the installation of the mailbox.

Bacon, and his neighbour Ben Griffin, claimed Canada Post’s stated reason for the move toward communal boxes was safety – that owners of private boxes which endanger postal workers would have to move to communal boxes.

That reason doesn’t wash with either man. Bacon has a broad, paved parking area in front of the private mailbox at his property. And he thinks forcing seniors, and other residents, to travel to a communal box creates risk.

“Two of them are unsafe,” said Bacon. “They’re not safe – they’re breaking their own regulations.”

The second communal box he referred to is at Fox Ranch Road. Ben Griffin timed how long it took a car to reach the communal box after first appearing – a safety test Canada Post runs when site-ing communal boxes – and the fastest time was eight seconds, which is six seconds faster than the Canada Post minimum 14 seconds (some timed vehicles were well within the safety standard).

Bacon claimed the Highway 2 site is dangerous.

A review of conditions at the site indicated a number of potential risk factors. Drivers leaving Amherst will be accelerating – the speed on the road is 80 km/h – and will come over a hill at the base of which is the post box entrance (albeit a substantial distance away). There is a business next door, as well as Smith Road, both of which mean turning traffic, some of it comprised of large trucks. In addition, agricultural vehicles are common on that stretch of road.

Both men have personal reasons to be upset as well.

“They evaluated everybody’s mail boxes…,” said Griffin.

The man said he met all the conditions required to make his private box comply with safety regulations – he has a voicemail saved, he said, verifying his compliance. But his wife confirmed many, if not all, of their neighbours have received keys. It’s just a matter of time, they think, before their key will arrive in the mail, too.

The lane into the parking lot where the Highway 2 communal box is located is nominally part of Bacon’s property. Most of the parking lot is unreservedly his.

The post box itself is off his property and, despite the driveway being built at Bacon’s own expense, much if not all of the land between the road and the box itself likely falls under the jurisdiction of the department of transportation (which has legal claim to a corridor on either side of public highways, even though many landowners think of those lands as their own).

 Still, he’s upset he wasn’t consulted about Canada Post’s plan to use a lane he built and land that’s always been part of his holdings.

The safety issue is a red herring, according to both men: denying personal delivery to rural clients is a cost-cutting measure.

“No, not at all,” said Anick Losier, a spokesperson for Canada Post.

She said the switch has been expensive, but that it’s required to be in compliance with employment safety requirements. Canada Post doesn’t want to endanger anyone’s safety, according to Losier, but they also have liability for their employees.

Employee fatalities were a catalyst for a safety review. A total of 840,000 rural mailboxes were slated for review. The spokesperson said 90-per cent of boxes are able to pass the review, but the remainder need another solution for delivery, such as communal boxes.

She understands the changes are not popular but said they were legally required, in part, by the criminal code.

Losier requested information on the locations of the two communal boxes, the implication being that further inquiries into their safety might be made.


Organizations: Canada Post, Highway 2

Geographic location: Smith Road, Fox Ranch Road

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Recent comments

  • Country living
    August 01, 2012 - 17:51

    I would suggest Mr Bacon stick with farming,something he knows about.If that location is unsafe,then the garage just above it must be unsafe to. We are entering a time period where changes are taking place,some good-some bad.This in my option is a bad one,good may be if you live in a town or city,but in the country it is just another kick in the face.A lot of seniors are out there trying to live in the country and this is not going to help them.This is all about money,just like the milk delivery and for seniors with no vehicle or ability to drive there is always can or powered milk.Welcome to the golden years in the country

  • countryboy
    July 31, 2012 - 07:09

    I spoke to a local Canada Post delivery person, This delivery person says they were not consulted about the new changes. My dad used to have mail delivery at his house, now he has to go to a communal box, he now, only gets to his mail box once a week. (for Steve who says they have the option to get mail and bills online, thats great for those who have internet, not all customers have this option) I was upset and called them last year and received a voicemail saying sorry its done and Canada Post stands by their decision.

  • bill
    July 30, 2012 - 11:59

    goverment should take measures and charge this man with blocking goverment structuresif anyone else did we would be charged

  • Why
    July 27, 2012 - 19:59

    Why 'in the world' would anyone with a computer use Canada Post anyway. They would have be crazy to rely on snail mail. Get with the program--lol

  • cumberlander
    July 27, 2012 - 10:26

    Change is always difficult. I agree with Steve from Amherst,The postman going door to door will soon be a thing of the past like the delivery of milk to homes using horse and wagon. Communal boxes just make sense for rural delivery. Pick up from these boxes for mobility impaired seniors,however, is an issue that needs further study. But then, how do seniors get their milk today?

  • statistics
    July 27, 2012 - 10:12

    So how many accidents have happened over the history of years showing the fatality rates involving Canada Post. We are now required to slow when passing a police related accident on the highway, (which I have no problem with...and always abide by). Just show us the statistics and stop BULL S!@T ing. Not everyone is as stupid as the govt wishes we were.

  • Steve From Amherst
    July 27, 2012 - 08:24

    I don't really see what the fuss is all about, most all bills and services are available on-line, making the post office irrelevant. I have house delivery in town and get mail delivered one day per week (usually) and only get advertisements and fliers (that i don't really want). Mail delivery is going the way of the Pony Express. IMHO as always

    • sueb
      August 03, 2012 - 09:23

      Well, it's a good thing it's not all about you, Steve. We get it, you do everything online. As long as your needs are being met, who cares about all the senior pensioners out there who can't afford a computer let alone figure out how to use one. How are they supposed to get their mail, by telepathy?! Or perhaps they should just get it over with and die already because their old ways aren't convenient in the computer age.

    • Reason
      August 03, 2012 - 15:33

      I would expect they will get in their cars, drive down the road and pick up their mail. Essentially the same way they are getting groceries, going shopping, attending appointments, etc. If a person doesn't have the ability to do all these mundane tasks then getting their mail is the least of their problems.

  • Illalwaysbebarbie
    July 27, 2012 - 00:12

    The one on the Pumping Station Road is NOT safe either!!. It is located on the last turn of the road towards Brookdale. Even though I am not one of those designated to use one, I can just imagine in the winter, with this road unplowed, full of snow and ice, and vehicles parked to pick up the mail... SPELLS DISASTER TO ME! Instead of doing all of this, why did Canada Post not inform everyone that they deemed their mailbox unsafe, the knowledge and right to make corrections. With most people using online mail and banking, I think this is just one more step closer to saying GOODBYE.. to Canada Post.

  • bill
    July 26, 2012 - 22:07

    polatics talking again what ever some big money people want they get is has been tat way in 50 years i lived in cumberland county thay raise stink over mail boxes but never say nothing about the trailers un safe with loads of hay and other slow moving tractors on the road at dark with no flashing lights on them