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The Globe and Mail

Demise of Canada Post delivery not an issue in Oakville, Ont.

Mail carrier Leo Gaspari delivers mail on his route in the Don Mills and Lawrence area in Toronto on Dec. 11, 2013.

Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail

Many of the residential streets in the southern part of Oakville, Ont., feature massive, 60-foot-wide lots, the kind that efficient trick-or-treaters avoid – and that Canada Post's mail carriers will soon skip, too.

The federal Crown corporation announced Thursday it will cease door-to-door delivery in 11 communities across Canada this fall, including Oakville, population 182,000. Both politicians and residents have greeted the news with quiet resignation. Only one-third of the town's households still get mail delivered to their doors, so super mailboxes are already a common sight.

Oakville Mayor Rob Burton hosted a round table with the town's residents' associations on Feb. 14 and raised the issue of the transition to super boxes and reception was muted, said Linda Oliver, president of the Bronte Village Residents Association.

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"One of the presidents of one of the associations said they've had no problems with theirs," Ms. Oliver says. "We knew it was coming; the residents all knew it was coming."

Sharlene Plewman, executive director of the Downtown Oakville BIA, sees an upside to installing community mailboxes: "We may in fact find enjoyment in being able to see both our business neighbours and residential neighbours at the mailbox," she said.

Resistance to the change has more to do with nostalgia than anything else, said Daniela Morawetz, 59, who lives in a tony neighbourhood in south Oakville and sees her mail carrier almost daily when she walks her dog. "It's like the demise of the milkman back in my parents' generation," she said.

Canada Post estimates it will have to install 500 community mailboxes throughout the town.

"So between now and apparently October, when they say they are going to have all of this done, they're going to locate, consult, build and serve 500 new community mailboxes … Do you believe that the federal government is capable of such efficiency?" Mr. Burton said.

The latest design of the super boxes will be easy enough to install in Oakville, which has wide streets and low density, said Mary Traversy, senior vice-president of business transformation at Canada Post. The greater challenge will be ceasing door-to-door service in the urban environments of downtown Toronto and Montreal. The Crown corporation's future designs could include boxes mounted to the sides of buildings or in corner coffee shops, Ms. Traversy said.

In Oakville, the biggest concern from the public has been what accommodations will be made for those with limited mobility, Ms. Traversy said. The Crown corporation has been consulting with both local and national groups representing seniors and people with disabilities to ensure they get their mail – but her hope is to avoid any door-front delivery, even for a minority of the population.

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That doesn't sit well with Kevin Flynn, the MPP for Oakville, who said his office has received visits from seniors who are concerned.

"It strikes me as instead of taking away a service from somebody who needs that service … you'd either make exceptions for those people or have a bulk mail delivery," he said.

Conservative MP Terence Young, who represents Oakville, doesn't expect many of his constituents will be too fussed about the change.

"By 2020, Canada Post will be in a position where they're losing a billion dollars a year on a business, which is letter mail, which is, frankly, a dying business," Mr. Young said.

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