A Winnipeg startup is ready to do what Canada Post soon won't – deliver mail right to your door.
YouHaveMail.ca is convinced there is money to be made in a service that Canada Post desperately wants to exit as Canadians continue to shun mail in the digital age.
The company said its staff of insured, bonded and uniformed carriers, including a couple of ex-posties, stand ready to deal with the bane of many homeowners – junk mail – while even guarding against their own nemesis – dogs.
"I looked at what all the challenges were going to be if we were going to be hauling all this stuff on foot, vicious dogs and all the works," company founder Dan Trudeau said. "So we'll make sure to have a little bit of pepper spray on hand."
The company is launching its service Oct. 20 in Winnipeg – the same day that Canada Post begins phasing out delivery to 5.1 million Canadian homes as part of a sweeping cost-cutting initiative announced last year. That includes 12,500 homes in the Manitoba capital.
YouHaveMail is planning to expand to Calgary and Fort McMurray, Alta., later this year, and to other Canadian cities, if the demand is there
"Because this is a new concept, we're going to test our feet in the water," said Mr. Trudeau, a 36-year-old industrial mechanic and automation specialist. "If the business is there, we'll go to where it is."
Two-day-per-week delivery will cost $20 a month; five-day-a-week service, nearly $60 a month. Disposing of junk mail is an extra $5. Carriers will use customers' mailbox keys and then deliver the mail, either on foot or by car.
Mr. Trudeau said "hundreds" of customers have signed up so far, but he acknowledged the company will eventually need thousands to make the business a success.
He said he dreamed up the idea after friends and acquaintances started complaining about the loss of home delivery.
"There are a lot of people who are interested in this service, either because they have too busy a life or they are physically unable to get out," Mr. Trudeau explained. "We are basically a courier service going to get something for our customers."
Canada Post is phasing out home delivery and shifting more than five million Canadian households to community mailboxes by 2018. The phase-out begins with the elimination of delivery to 100,000 homes, mainly in the outer suburbs of cities such as Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and Calgary. In 2015, another 1.17 million homes will be cut off. The next batch of households slated to lose home delivery next spring include parts of Calgary, Winnipeg, Hamilton, Montreal's South Shore, Halifax and various communities in the Greater Toronto Area, including Milton, Thornhill, Unionville and Whitby, Ont.
Canada Post, which delivered 1.2 billion fewer letters in 2013 than it did in 2006, has estimated that the end of home delivery will save it up to $500-million a year. Home delivery costs the Crown corporation more than twice as much as community boxes – $275 a year per address, versus $120 for community mailbox service.
Canada Post declined to comment on YouHaveMail.ca's plans.
The Canadian Union of Postal Workers accused the company of "exploiting" the demise of home delivery.
"The Harper government is trying to kill Canada's postal service and the vultures are circling," said Denis Lemelin, national president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.
"Mail delivery must remain a public service, not a for-profit business."