Community mailbox concerns nothing new

By Mel Rothenburger, TNRD Director Area P (Rivers and The Peaks).

When Canada Post recently announced it was scheduling the end of door-to-door mail delivery in Kamloops, the reaction was one of both disappointment and resignation. While it had been known for quite some time the decision was coming, it nonetheless stirred up old concerns.

In rural areas, community mailboxes are nothing new. They’ve become part of country living. Even the iconic rural mailboxes are becoming a thing of the past.

A rural resident’s idea of improved postal service is when the drive down the road to the community mailbox gets a kilometer or two shorter, and usually it’s the other way around.

That would be regarded as nothing more than an inconvenient necessity if it weren’t for the high rate of vandalism and mail theft from those community boxes. Times are changing. The old rural boxes I mentioned were never secured and, in the good old days, never stolen from.

In recent years, though, theft grew and so did vandalism. Community mailboxes have become easy pickings for more sophisticated forms of destruction.

Thieves can knock off several community mailboxes in a night, easily prying open the locked boxes, grabbing the mail, keeping what they think might be of value and tossing the rest in a ditch.

Some months ago, I started hearing about these thefts from residents who were becoming frustrated about recurring incidents. I’ve had several conversations with Canada Post officials since, and I understand their own frustration. It’s hard to catch these criminals in the act, though the recent capture of several suspects after a mailbox break-in in Kamloops gives one hope.

I asked that Canada Post representatives be invited to a TNRD meeting to talk about the situation, and while the resulting discussion was informative it didn’t provide much indication that a solution will be found any time soon.

Stronger mailboxes seem the best answer, and they’re gradually being introduced in rural areas. However, there seems no clear strategy for putting them into locations where theft has been the worst. As I’ve explained to Canada Post, people would feel a little better if they knew their neighbourhoods were in the queue, but first there has to be a queue.

As Canada Post accelerates its community mailbox rollout it seems likely the security issue will become even more challenging. Rural areas, which have contended with the problem the longest, shouldn’t now have to go to the back of the line.