No evidence replacement of home delivery with community mail boxes can be done acceptably, architects warn

Retrofitting countless neighbourhoods to replace home delivery with community mail boxes by 2018 will be “extremely challenging,” say Canada’s architects, and there is no evidence it can be done acceptably.


Canada Post’s cancellation of home delivery means community mailboxes — with all the litter and traffic they entail — will have to be installed in countless long-established neighbourhoods.

Canada Post announced the cancellation of home delivery in a pre-Christmas release that focussed on the postal service’s financial woes, but the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada warns that such a changeover has never been tried in any  G8 country and could be massively disruptive for existing neighbourhoods designed with door-to-door delivery in mind.

Architects from every region of Canada have weighed in with their warnings.

Canada Post president Deepak Chopra defended the decision by suggesting it offers a new exercise opportunity seniors, who now will have to walk significant distances to collect mail. Canada Post also expects to raise postal rates by 35 cents for letter mail and to eliminate 8,000 jobs.

Until now, community boxes have simply been set down by sidewalks in new neighbourhoods, where they often become a source of litter, traffic congestion and parking conflicts. The RAIC believes a detailed planning process will be required, at the very least, to make the system effective in older neighbourhoods.

“Architects and urban designers should be involved in the development and planning of such postal nodes,” says RAIC president-elect Wayne De Angelis, of Vancouver “They must be considered as part of the urban fabric just as mail slots and post boxes were considered in the planning of our homes.”

(I will be asking my council colleagues to consider seeking a full report on the issue from city staff when council resumes later this month. Until now, Canada Post’s intrusion in most neighbourhoods has been limited to mail boxes and “relay boxes” that do not even require a foundation.)

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre has already taken a stand against the cancellation of home delivery because of the very serious impacts he expects in his city. The Canadian Union of Postal Workers has undertaken a national campaign to save home delivery.