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Bad sidewalks in St. John's could halt mail-to-door delivery

Delivery vehicles are parked at the post office in Halifax on Saturday, May 28, 2011.

Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press/Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press

A history of icy and unclear sidewalks in Newfoundland's capital may mean Canada Post will stop door-to-door mail delivery in some areas of the city this winter.

Canada Post recently served about 400 of its customers with letters outlining the possible changes, which would involve installing temporary community mailboxes in some areas of St. John's.

Denise Corra, a spokeswoman with Canada Post, said the lack of snow clearing on sidewalks has been a major safety concern for its letter carriers in previous winters.

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She said on certain streets, snow builds up on the sidewalks and letter carriers are forced to walk on the roadways.

"They're walking alongside a lot of fast moving traffic," Ms. Corra said Saturday. "We know an accident in that situation may not just be a twisted ankle. It could be a very serious accident."

The Crown corporation was actually forced to suspend delivery in areas of St. John's for a few days last March because it was too dangerous to deliver the mail.

She said the boxes will be installed but will only be used if necessary.

"We need to be ready just in case it becomes too dangerous for them," she said.

Ms. Corra said at the end of the winter, the boxes will be removed.

Although the measure is new to St. John's, it's quite a common procedure in other parts of the country. In fact, community boxes are permanent fixtures in some parts of Quebec and Ontario and used every winter as an alternate delivery service, Ms. Corra said.

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Ms. Corra could not say how much installing the boxes will cost, but did say it's a pretty significant investment.

But it's money well spent, she said.

"It's a costly thing ... but we're going to invest to improve safety, and we're certainly willing to do that."

The City of St. John's recently invested in new snow removal equipment which could help curb the use of the community boxes, said Ms. Corra. She said Canada Post is working with the city to identify areas in need of a box and to keep snow clearing initiatives on track.

Areas being considered include New Cove Road, Portugal Cove Road and Topsail Road, she said.

Corra said the most common types of injuries for letter carriers at Canada Post is slips, trips and falls.

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