The Township of Esquimalt has requested that Canada Post halt the installation of community mailboxes until more public consultation can be done.
“The very first thing that we’re doing is requesting a moratorium on the placing of mailboxes until we have further public consultation,” said Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins.
She said there have been concerns from residents about where the boxes will be installed, security, lighting and accessibility.
Desjardins said the township hasn’t received any reassurance from Canada Post that there will be any further consultation other than the pamphlets that were mailed out to residents about what the mailboxes could potentially look like and where they will go.
“You’re going to place things in an already developed community, some people will have disabilities and others will have difficulties being able to access certain places, those things all need to be taken into account,” she said, adding that there should be more of a back and forth discussion between residents and the corporation.
At a committee meeting last week, council also directed staff to see what role the municipality has in dictating where the boxes can go.
“There may need to be lighting, sidewalks, garbage cans — all of those things are adding on to the costs of a municipality,” added Desjardins. “Although Canada post needs to save money, they don’t need to do it on the backs of municipalities.”
Anick Losier, spokesperson with Canada Post, said they have been in communication with the township and residents about where the boxes will go and have sent out an online survey in which the response rate was 30 per cent.
“We’ve had meetings with the municipality to better understand their criteria,” said Losier. “We’ve taken all of that information and incorporated it into the planning process in order to select the best possible site for each neighbourhood.”
She added in April they also went door knocking to 107 sites where the boxes are proposed to get residents’ thoughts on the location.
Victoria MP Murray Rankin said it’s not enough.
“[Municipalities] are simply saying we want more more planning and community consultation and I support that,” said Rankin. “Canada Post is jamming this as quickly as they can. It’s hurting seniors, its hurting those with disabilities, it’s hurting small business people.”
The next step is distributing location letters to confirm the location of the community mailboxes to affected residents and then starting installation at the end of 2015, added Losier.
There are more than 3,000 households and 47 business addresses in Esquimalt that will be affected by the change.