The key for Doug Boyd's new community mailbox arrived in the mail a month ago and he already checked to see if it worked. By Friday, he had seen the last postal delivery at his red-brick home in suburban Ottawa.
And so, by Monday morning, the 59-year-old Kanata resident was among tens of thousands of Canadians who are the first to be affected this fall by Canada Post's big push to end door-to-door delivery in all urban areas within the next four years.
The first phase-out this week affects about 71,300 homes and 2,300 businesses in Fort McMurray, Calgary's east end, Winnipeg's north end, the Kanata suburb in western Ottawa, five bedroom communities northeast of Montreal and parts of Halifax.
These will be joined on Nov. 17 by 25,300 homes and 1,100 businesses in Oakville.
The move didn't happen without complaints from residents who felt that their new mailboxes were installed in a hurried fashion and that the Crown corporation was determined to make the shift, no matter what concerns were raised.
Mr. Boyd's new community box, for example, sits at a corner across from his house.
He expects that, like other community mailboxes (or CMB in Canada Post jargon), his will become littered with junk mail and tagged with graffiti. He fears motorists will stop by at all hours and would crowd his driveway since there is no parking at the box.
"There's nowhere to park in a safe way at all. All of them through out my neighbourhood are right around a corner. If you turn right from one street to another – surprise! – there's going to be a parked car there," Mr. Boyd said in an interview.
In the Montreal suburb of Repentigny, a resident told CBC that he received a key that opened three neighbours' mailboxes, but not his own.
In Kanata, Mr. Boyd said he tried to contact Canada Post to flag his concerns.
"The location is really bad. There's no lighting. Snowploughing in our area is quite bad … In the wintertime this is going to be quite a disaster. Is Canada Post going to follow the city ploughs around and dig these things out every day?"
But, he said, his apprehensions fell on deaf ears, even though he insisted on speaking with a Canada Post supervisor.
The challenge in his neighbourhood is that Canada Post had to carve out CMB locations in an area that was already developed. The hurdles will be even more daunting as the corporation moves further into more densely populated areas.
Canada Post has said it is considering new CMB designs so they could be mounted on the sides of buildings, corner stores or coffee shops.
The Canada Post drive would more than double the number of Canadian households that will get its letters and parcels from CMBs.
The corporation repeatedly notes that two-thirds of Canadian households (about 10 millions homes) already don't receive their mail at the door. However, that includes people who live in seniors' residence, apartments and condos and who would get delivery at a mail panel in their building lobby. Of the 10 million households cited by Canada Post, about four million – 26 per cent of all households in Canada – receive their mail at a community mailbox.
While many politicians and residents appear resigned to the change, others are still trying to challenge Canada Post.
More than 195,000 people have signed an online petition started by Susan Dixon, a Cambridge, Ont., resident.
One of her two young sons has cerebral palsy and needs either a walker or a wheelchair. "I wonder, has anyone at Canada Post ever tried to to push a stroller or a wheelchair or a walker through the snow? I don't think they realize the impact of ending door-to-door mail delivery when it comes to the parents of young children, to the disabled, and to the elderly, especially in winter," she wrote on her petition.
There is also a lawsuit filed in federal court by the union representing Canada's postal workers. It argues that the move is unconstitutional because there was no proper consultation and because it affects disabled people.
The corporation, meanwhile, has notified customers who will be affected in their next round of "conversions," scheduled for next spring.
More residents in Calgary, Winnipeg and Halifax will no longer get home delivery, along with people in St. Albert and Sherwood Park in Alberta; Hamilton, Milton, Georgetown, Thornhill, Unionville and Whitby in Ontario; and Montreal's South Shore.