PV Vancouver Bureau
Opposition against the Harper government’s move to eliminate urban home mail delivery is moving into high gear this fall. The “Save Canada Post” campaign backed by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers is pressing Conservative MPs to reverse their attack on this crucial public service.
In a recent news release, CUPW President Denis Lemelin raised one of many important arguments: the impact of so-called “community mailboxes” on residential property values. “Postal service cuts are coming to people’s homes, and they may be wondering what the impact will be,” Lemelin says. “Canada Post intends to install and use Community Mailboxes (CMBs) where homes currently have door‑to‑door delivery.
“The plan will affect both postal workers and users, so the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) wanted to find out how much the CMB plan could cost homeowners. Earlier this year, CUPW investigated how CMBs might affect residential property values. We learned there is more than one way to find whether something would influence a home’s market value.
“One method is called the direct comparison approach. This approach suggests that yes, a CMB installation would probably reduce a home’s value: if you had a choice between two homes, one with and one without a CMB there, other factors being equal, it’s reasonable to think you would prefer the one without. So you would likely pay more for that one. But this direct comparison approach doesn’t put a dollar figure on the impact.
“Another method, a `before and after’ method of appraisal would help determine the amount of the devaluation, but this kind of data isn’t available yet, because there aren’t yet any residential properties in Canada that have had CMBs added to their property. In other words, Canada Post is in unknown territory, and no‑one can accurately predict the cost. “Why would someone rather buy a house without a CMB next door? Because of: the associated increase in traffic and noise; the nuisance of vehicles stopped and idling there; debris and litter; loss of privacy; decreased curb appeal; and vandalism concerns, among other possible reasons.
“Canada Post Corporation (CPC) maintains it has the right to impose its new mailboxes on people and doesn’t have to give them any choice in the matter. Representatives of CPC have met with affected residents to tell them this is how things will be. But they’re leaving some important questions unanswered.
“Should a residential property owner seek compensation? Are they being misled to believe they have no choice? What will they do about the costs of cleaning and maintaining the property if/when Canada Post fails to adequately maintain the CMB area? What if someone should be injured or cause other liability on a homeowner’s property? Canada Post’s plan makes homeowners and the public pay for the costs, while cutting services. Offering less for more isn’t a good plan.”
CUPW argues that ending home delivery is unnecessary, since the financial situation of Canada Post does not require drastic service cuts. In the second quarter of 2014 Canada Post reported $62 million in profit. In fact, it has reported profits in 17 of the past 19 years. The union says that forcing people to walk or drive to a community mailbox to receive their mail will cause real hardship for many with disabilities and restricted mobility. These cuts, and the postage rate hike, create hardship for the most vulnerable segment of the population.
CUPW says Canada Post should follow the example of other countries and use its enormous retail network and its decades of experience in banking to expand into financial services.
In the past, public opposition has successfully stopped Canada Post management from making unnecessary service reductions. In the 1980s, postal management planned to close thousands of post offices. Public pressure eventually forced the newly elected Liberal government to place a moratorium on closures in 1994. The union is asking supporters to visit http://www.savecanadapost.ca, to send a message to their MP, download window signs, or ask for notices about upcoming events. Supporters can sign online petitions and find out about meetings with MPs or municipal representatives.
On September 20, representatives of the Toronto Local, the Metro‑Toronto Region and the national CUPW office, with the support of other organizations, demonstrated at the office of Finance Minister Joe Oliver. Over 250 people joined the protest against Canada Post’s five‑point plan, and other service cuts. In other recent actions, CUPW members and other supporters rallied at the offices of Conservative MPs Denis Lebel, James Moore, and Lisa Raitt.
Save Canada Post info tables and petition collections have been held at London’s “Western Fair,” the annual “Rib Fest” in Oshawa, and Labour Day parades in Hamilton, Windsor, Durham, Toronto, Acadie-Bathurst, Victoria, and North Bay. In some communities, door‑to‑door canvassing actions have been organized. The website also lists upcoming activities. For example, there will be an information table at the Union of Municipalities of Nova Scotia annual meeting, in early November.