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Cities ‘spoiled’ by postal service: FCM

New Westminster Coun. Bill Harper -
New Westminster Coun. Bill Harper
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New Westminster may want door-to-door mail delivery service to continue but there’s a bunch of communities across the country that aren’t sympathetic to the cause.

City council was one of many local governments to back a resolution to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM)  convention. It opposed Canada Post’s plans to phase in neighbourhood mailboxes everywhere starting this fall.

But the resolution was shot down when the vote was called. Couns. Bill Harper and Lorrie Williams said it was because of the FCM’s rural-urban divide. Since there’s so many small towns across the country they control the voting, said Harper. And they’ve had to slog their way to the neighbourhood mailbox for decades.

“They said, ‘We’ve had it for years, what are you complaining about?’ It was literally said like that,” said Harper on Wednesday after returning from the FCM convention in Niagara Falls, Ont.

“They think we’re already spoiled here,” said Williams.

But Harper said substituting mailboxes for door-to-door delivery creates many safety issues. He noted thieves recently pulled out an entire recent mailbox in Langley and hauled it away.

“They’re getting credit card numbers, identity theft, all sorts of stuff. It’s probably becoming a business,” said Harper.

Williams said seniors will be particularly affected if the service is discontinued.

There are other issues, said Harper, such as lighting and who will pay for the extra police calls and investigations when thefts take place that need to be figured out. He also noted in New Westminster the only place mailboxes can be located is on city property which raises more issues.

Harper said the FCM executive didn’t put the resolution on the floor. But during the conference it was brought forward as an emergency resolution. That motion got the two-thirds support of delegates needed to proceed. But the hall was half full. By the time discussion of the resolution was done, including an impassioned plea from Harper, it was full. The earlier vote had Harper expecting it would pass, so when it got shot down he was surprised, and disappointed.

“It’s unfortunate but that’s the way it goes sometimes,” said Harper. Despite the vote, he doesn’t believe it’s a dead issue. “It’s a long drawn out process that runs through the 2015 election. It all depends on whether or not organized seniors groups or people with disabilities or cities [get involved].”

• Williams was re-elected as a B.C. representative to the board of directors. She was elected for the first time a year ago when the convention was held in Vancouver.

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