Fighting CMBs at Toronto City Hall

Community members and City councillors Janet Davis and Joe Cressy hold a press conference about the installation of CMBs in Toronto.
Community members and City councillors Janet Davis and Joe Cressy hold a press conference about the installation of CMBs in Toronto.

On June 16 and 18 the Planning and Growth Management Committee of the city of Toronto held hearings on the Canada Post’s plan to end home mail delivery and install Community Mailboxes (CMBs). Just days before the hearings Canada Post announced it would keep door-to-door delivery in the downtown core of the city. The announcement would only save the service for 22,000 addresses.

The committee adopted a comprehensive set of recommendations for city council, that mostly focused on asking Canada Post to do proper consultations and costing for their plan to implement CMBs. On September 29 the Disability Issues Committee will discuss the issue and its potential impacts on people with disabilities in the city. The Planning and Growth Management Committee will meet again on November 16 to be updated on the issue.

One of those who spoke to the Planning and Growth Management Committee was Angela Jones, a CUPW activist and Campaign Coordinator the Toronto Local. We present here, her full deputation to the committee:

“Good afternoon, first off I would like to say thank you to council for allowing me to speak in regards to the possible implementation of community mailboxes in the City of Toronto.

We recently heard that the city of Hamilton lost their right to impose a bylaw charging Canada Post a $200.00 fee per community mailbox (CMB) location and stopping the installation of CMBs until the they have complied with the new bylaw. The judge sided with the Canada Post.

Canada Post is entitled, the judge wrote, to make such decisions for the benefit of its survival, and to do so “untrammelled as it were by interference from those who do not share their power or jurisdiction in such specific areas of competence.” The city of Hamilton is looking at appealing the decision.

The reason for the City of Hamilton proposing this bylaw was in large part from a study the city had done and recognized the additional costs to the municipalities for city staff when reviewing each location. These additional costs were for:

  • Installation requests for additional sidewalks where sidewalks do not exist
  • Installation of additional sidewalk approach ramps for easier access
  • Increased snow clearing responsibilities
  • Installation of additional signage on posts
  • Reduction in legal parking spaces
  • Additional streetlight requests to improve visibility to and from CMB locations and security at locations
  • Additional waste container requests around CMBs
  • Graffiti and/or vandalism of CMBs and adjacent private property
  • Possible bus stop conflicts
  • Interference with cycling traffic
  • Increased claims against city for personal injury or property damage associated with CMBs

It was announced this week that Halton Hills will be paid $200 for permits per site from Canada Post despite the Judge’s ruling in Hamilton.

There are 574 resolutions passed across Canada. These resolutions were passed in opposition to the elimination of door to door service or a halt to delivery changes until there is proper consultation.

Although the delivery standards operation manual states, “where a community mailbox is located on privately held land the property owner must grant Canada Post a license to occupy the land… each community mailbox location is chosen by the delivery planner after consultation with the local municipality.”

This is questionable, in London Ontario residents were given a survey with an info kit asking for neighbourhood preferences for the CMBs, results weren’t released to the city and proposed locations were kept confidential.

This is also the case in Dryden Ontario where residents once again were asked for input based on a survey.

Across Canada residents are notified by mail that they are losing the service. There are no Canada Post officials attending town hall meetings to discuss the changes and no meaningful consultation or transparency to the changes.

There have been mass petition campaigns. Municipalities have proposed bylaws to these changes and yet Canada Post has not complied and arrogantly continues their installation of these CMBs. The loss of the court case by the city of Hamilton, unless it is reversed on appeal, means Canada Post will dictate how and where they will be implementing these CMBs.

The city of Montreal joined the federal challenge announced last autumn by CUPW along with groups representing seniors and disabled. This challenge now includes Pointe-Claire, Ste. Anne de Bellevue, Dorval, Kirkland, Longueil and Laval.

The city of Aurora has passed a bylaw that states the Canada Post must purchase a permit when designating CMB locations.

The city of Stratford has also added a $200 fee for each CMB site to cover costs incurred by the city associated with the reviewed approval of the CMBs and a moratorium on installation of any CMBs until the city has had the opportunity to provide conditions on the placement and maintenance and until concerns have been addressed.

Canada Post states it is responsible for snow removal around the locations of the CMBs but is not responsible for removing litter or landscape upkeep.

The municipality of Merritt B.C. has ceased delivery of mail to CMBs due to 500 customers who have had their mail stolen from the CMBs.

The city of Vaughan has an anti-littering and bylaw enforcement campaign in effect due to complaints from residents about the buildup of litter at CMB locations. The city of Brampton found that the total costs to parks and recreation per year is $18,983 in addition to the $30,762 to address litter issues at CMBs.

The city of Toronto needs to look at issues other municipalities have faced with these new CMBs and have a plan in place to prevent them from arbitrarily doing what they deem is there right as a federal institution. They need to be made accountable and adhere to city bylaws and listen to the public when voicing their concerns and opinions surrounding their loss of service. There needs to be meaningful consultation and transparency when deciding where CMBs will be located. To say that they are eliminating this based on financial instability when they have made a profit prior to and since the announcement makes their credibility and integrity questionable.”

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