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Gardens sprout in London community mailbox sites as locals oppose Canada Post

Residents in London, Ont., turn to guerrilla gardening to protest abolition of door-to-door residential mail delivery.

Diana Mehta, The Canadian Press, Jul 30 2015

Miniature gardens are sprouting at certain locations in London, Ont., where Canada Post plans to install controversial community mailboxes.

The fenced-in flower beds, which sit atop concrete pads where mailboxes will stand, are being installed by a group of residents opposed to the Crown corporation’s plan to end door-to-door residential mail delivery.

The group, called Londoners for Door to Door, says the garden boxes are being set up in areas where local residents are unhappy with making the switch to community mailboxes.

Canada Post announced its plan to end door-to-door service in December 2013, citing declining traditional mail volumes as the reason. It gave itself five years to implement the move to community mailboxes and said it expects 900,000 households to make the switch this year.

Wendy Goldsmith says the Londoners for Door to Door was set up in the winter after residents raised concerns about safety, privacy, litter and traffic when mailboxes go into what they consider less-than-ideal locations.

The actions in London are just the latest in a series of efforts by residents in Ontario and beyond who are opposed to Canada Post’s community mailbox plan.

In one Quebec community, a man dumped soil on the spot where a community mailbox was set to go in, set up a steel fence around it and peppered his lawn with “Save door-to-door” signs.

In Hamilton, where the city took Canada Post to court over how much say local government has over mailbox locations, some residents used bags of mulch and newly planted shrubs to disrupt installation of the mailboxes.

Despite the local displays of dissent, however, Canada Post emerged the winner of that court case. An Ontario judge found that a Hamilton bylaw, which required Canada Post to obtain a $200 permit per site to install boxes on municipal land, did not apply to the Crown corporation.

In London, Goldsmith said the latest “guerrilla gardening” effort came about because Canada Post wasn’t respecting a request from the city of London to hold off on mailbox installation until further consultation was held.

“What we want to do is send a really clear message to Canada Post that this is something our community is not going to accept without consultation and without residents being made aware clearly of the impact this is going to have on their communities,” she said.

The first garden box was installed in Wednesday night, Goldsmith said, another followed Thursday morning, and third one was planned for a site on Friday.

In addition to the garden boxes, one neighbourhood is holding a so-called “block party” at a proposed mailbox site to prevent contractors from developing it further, Goldsmith said. In that area, neighbours opposed to the community mailbox transition camped out overnight to lay claim to the space, she said.

Goldsmith said her group had reached out to Canada Post in the hopes of having a conversation but hadn’t been successful in its efforts.

However, Jon Hamilton, a spokesman with Canada Post, said the Crown corporation has carried out an “extensive” local consultation process in London since November 2014, and is in the early stages of a community mailbox transition which is set to take effect later this year.

“While we have a long history installing equipment in communities across the country,” said Hamilton, “we do so in a thoughtful, consultative manner and in accordance with the laws that govern how postal service is provided in Canada.”

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