Heidelberg residents upset about the Jan. 23 closure of the community’s post office say the new community mailboxes pose a hazard in the village. Canada Post’s decision to scrap service in the village followed a dispute with the owner of Forwell Super Variety. Since then it’s made overtures to eight businesses within the community and had direct discussions with six but has been unable to come up with a new location for a full-service outlet. Canada Post says it has only one option: install community mailboxes. The Crown corporation has started to erect the community boxes in the village, which led a delegation of residents to speak to Wellesley council Tuesday night expressing their concerns about the location of the boxes and the safety of the residents in the Heidelberg.
“We have had a post office in Heidelberg since 1858,” said John Maziarz, who spoke for the delegation. “We had a commercial area that had a post office and it was safe to park in the area while collecting mail – cars were not in the way of traffic, and it was safe for pedestrians and motorists.”
Maziarz claimed the community boxes would change the traffic flow in the village as more cars would be on the road stopping to collect mail.
“Some of these mailboxes are in blind spots or on hills and this will be problematic for everyone involved, including horse-drawn buggies,” said Maziarz. “They will create a road hazard.”
Currently residents must travel to St. Clements to pick up their mail until Feb. 20 when the boxes are completely installed and ready to be used.
“There is a lot of mail order parcels now which means more parcels and we have to travel a longer distance to pick up items that were easily accessible to us at the old retail location,” said Maziarz. “The parcels won’t fit into the small community boxes.”
The delegation believed that Canada Post has created a situation that could be potentially unsafe and could cost the township money in snow removal around the boxes.
“Economically and safety-wise it does not make sense to have these boxes in the village,” said Maziarz. “We will not be serviced properly and it will cost a lot more.”
Mayor Ross Kelterborn had invited representatives from Canada Post to speak to the delegation and reassure the use of the community boxes were safe.
The community mailbox concept is not new, having been in operation since 1984 with a vast majority of mail handled through community mailboxes, said Tom Creech, corporate communications officer at Canada Post.
Mail delivery, he argued, has moved closer to residents as the nine locations in Heidelberg are now located within neighbourhoods.
“We have taken the 400 people that go to the store and spread them out all within their own neighbourhoods. Only the people living in the area are going to go to those boxes,” said Tom Zadorsky a Canada Post representative.
Each box is designed to have parcel compartments in them which will handle at least 70 per cent of the parcels that are mailed out. If there is a signature item the parcel will be delivered to the door and if no one is there to receive it, it will be sent to St. Clements to be picked up.
Canada Post will also be hiring someone to maintain the post boxes; they will shovel the snow, and make sure any graffiti or posters are removed.
“Unfortunately closing the retail at the variety store and moving delivery to St. Clements, that was an emergency case that happened and Canada Post did give residents a month’s notice on the change of address and the change to community mailbox service,” said Zadorsky.
Not everyone is expected to change their address effective Feb. 20, as Canada Post does give users a free change of address service for one year, said Creech.
The representatives expects some people will end up walking to the community boxes because they are located so close to home which will actually decrease the number of vehicles on the road.
“We know people don’t like change but our experiences have been that once these boxes have been used by customers for a length of time they come to appreciate the features that are available to them. It is a one stop shop to be able to mail and pick up most items,” said Zadorsky.
Canada Post worked with the municipality to find the suitable locations for all the boxes and if there were any safety concerns or incidents the boxes can be easily removed and located to a safer area.