Wednesday April 23, 2014



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Snail mail

Canada Post’s restructuring of routes slows the delivery of local mail
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Shawn Gill Photo

A Canada Post letter carrier braves the icy streets of Fort St. John on their daily route. Recent changes to Fort St. John routes have resulted in some people's mail being delivered later than usual.

If you were wondering why your mail has been arriving later than usual it’s because the Fort St. John Canada Post recently restructured its local mail routes.

According to one mail carrier, the restructuring has meant later start times, longer routes and heavier mail.

“We’ve lost three walks and have had more distributed on everyone else,” said a local Canada Post worker who wished to remain anonymous. She sympathizes with people and businesses that have been getting their mail later on in the day.

In October, a Canada Post expert who measures the time it takes for letter carriers to do their routes walked the pre-existing routes and made some changes to the Fort St. John route structure as well as changing their time of preparation, according to Anick Losier, a spokesperson for Canada Post.

“We hadn’t measured these routes for at least seven or eight years,” said Losier. “We normally try to remeasure a root every five or six year to make sure that its fair.”

Losier said that the migration of peoples and businesses in and out of the city affects how much time it takes to deliver the mail.

“Each letter carrier is assigned a route. Each address or point of call is assigned a time value. As people move around in their neighbourhood we once and awhile do a route restructure,” said Losier.

Otherwise, there could be some letter carriers working less than their assigned eight hours, while still getting paid for a full day’s work. In other instances, workloads for some personnel may increase in the years after a route restructure, costing the Crown corporation money in overtime pay.

“We are trying to do the right thing by staying as efficient as possible so in the end we don’t become unsustainable or a burden on taxpayers,” said Losier.

Canada Post says that the recent route restructure in Fort St. John could lead to a possible slowdown in mail service in the short-term, as letter carrier’s get used to their new routes and that it will ultimately end in lowering their costs while delivering a comparable level of service.

“People will get their mail every day. There’s no specific time in a day when people are to expect their mail… For sure, if they aren’t getting their mail every day, they should contact our customer service,” said Losier, noting that for regular mail Canada Post does not guarantee a time of day when the mail will arrive.

Local business owner Brian Vermeulen, president of BV Land Corp, says that his company’s mail now comes at 3 p.m. when before it used to arrive at 11 a.m.

He says that for the most part, his business is unaffected, but as most customers still use regular mail to send their payments it’s conceivable that their projects could be postponed a day because the company can’t make same-day deposits after lunch.

“The bottom line is that any company making changes is going to have a short-term glitch,” said Vermeulen, adding that he hopes that once their letter carrier is comfortable with the new route the mail will be delivered earlier.

Nelson Stowe, owner of Ideal Office Solutions, agreed that the most negative way that deliveries later in the day will affect local businesses is in payments.

“Most of our cheques still come through that process. It [potentially] affects the flow the day. If you don’t get your cheques till three, you can’t deposit till the next day,” said Stowe.

In this way businesses, even in the digital age, are still reliant on the mail.

Other businesses in town may be more adversely affected by later delivery times. Businesses that rely on Canada Post to deliver time-sensitive materials like sales promotions and advertisements.

Attempts to get in touch with such businesses were unsuccessful by press time.

“Because we’re moving to a digital workflow of documents the Post Office has to be really good at what it does,” said Stowe.

Three residents in the area of 89A Street and 117th Ave. noted that they have noticed that the mail is coming later than usual. Where the mail used to arrive to their door or mailbox before noon before last month, now it is arriving closer to 2 p.m.


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