Canada Post announces Delta switch to community mailboxes same day as Surrey thefts

DELTA/SURREY — On the same day Canada Post announced an end to door-to-door mail delivery for Ladner in lieu of community mailboxes, two such boxes were stolen in Surrey.

The irony is not lost on Stephen Gale, local president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.

“It sends an interesting message to the people of Ladner of ‘how secure is your mail going to be’ in these new, ‘more secure’ boxes?” he wondered.

According to Gale, the mailbox thefts occurred in the 2800 block of Surrey between 169 and 170th Street sometime during the afternoon of Dec. 4.

While thieves have traditionally broken into community mailboxes opening each panel individually, in this case they appear to have simply ripped the boxes in their entirety from the ground and taken them.

Gale said the boxes in question were the newer-style community mailboxes that have proven to be harder to break into, which are the same ones that will be introduced in Ladner.

“It kind of sends a bit of a mixed message because these are the newer boxes that Canada Post has been installing,” he said, adding that the former mailboxes in the Surrey neighbourhood had been broken into four times before they were finally replaced.

In response to the thefts, a Canada Post spokesperson said, "Canada Post is investigating this recent incident and working closely with local police. We take the security of the mail very seriously."

The spokesperson added, "We will investigate this latest incident and see what additional measures we can put in place. We will be communicating with the affected customers shortly."

While the question of what is being done to secure the new boxes is an issue unto itself, Gale wonders why Canada Post has decided to end door-to-door delivery across the country as thefts of community mailboxes are on the rise.

“We see different numbers, but it’s anywhere from 50 to 70 per cent of all community mailbox thefts (in Canada) occur within B.C. and a large portion of that is the Lower Mainland,” he said. “Surrey and Langley are definitely the worst, it’s pretty much constant and it’s really risen in the past year.”

The announcement to end door-to-door delivery nation-wide was made by Canada Post last winter and was part of a five-point plan to cut back on costs.

However, after talking to residents Gale said community support for continuing door-to-door delivery was almost unanimous. With quarterly reports showing Canada Post to be profitable he said residents are wondering why community mailboxes need to be implemented at all.

“The whole plan was about money and they created this whole doom and gloom scenario but they’re reporting $13 million profit in the third quarter, $53 million in the second quarter,” he said.

Himself a mail carrier in White Rock, Gale said door-to-door is proven to be the most secure form of mail delivery.

“When I deliver the mail I know people are going to get it, it’s secure inside their doors,” he said, noting it’s more difficult for thieves to hit individual houses for their mail than a single community mailbox.

Representatives with Canada Post appeared before Delta council earlier this year saying they’re committed to keeping Canadians informed and to implementing the conversion in a thoughtful way. They also noted the postal service will work with community leaders and municipal officials to choose safe and appropriate sites.

Gale said with the announcement for Ladner, the union will be working with residents and local politicians to pressure Canada Post into keeping door-to-door deliver in the community.

“When we talk to Canada Post about the issue they think it’s just the union battling for jobs but for me, it’s upsetting because when I deliver the mail I want to make sure it’s still there when people go to get it,” he said.

Households that already receive their mail and parcels through community mailboxes, lobby mailboxes or rural mailboxes, as well as businesses in commercial corridors that receive large volumes, will see no change.

-with files from Sandor Gyarmati

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