It's secure (the boxes are locked unlike a doorstep mailbox), convenient (parcels can be locked in a special parcel dropbox, the key for which is deposited in your own mailbox, instead of having to be retrieved at the post office) and cheaper for the postal system.
Only people who live in older, more affluent areas built before community mailboxes receive home mail delivery. It's effectively a subsidy from us to them. Good riddance.
My parents' old house in a suburb of Vancouver is not in an affluent area and received such door to door service. Their new neighbourhood (which is rather upper middle income) and the apartment block that I live in doesn't however have this and has the "new-fangled" community mailboxes.
I personally am not a fan of this but the amount of mail I have received has diminished to just bills.
Come to Hamilton. I'll show you neighborhoods full of worn-down century homes that are under 6 figures to buy. And they don't have driveways. The next mailbox is only 20 feet away, and there's barely even a front lawn.
Compared to the gargantuan two-car-garage megalots of modern suburban sprawl, that's a huge difference. The amount of time a mail-carrier spends walking from one home to the next is important since that activity consumes most of the delivery time.
So the fact is, we used to build cities that made sense to service with mail-carriers. Then we took the brakes off of sprawl development and now it's no longer economical to do this.
I want to see a cost breakdown - what communities cost the most per-house to service with mail-carriers, and what communities cost the least. You want a fiscally sound decision? Fine, base it on cost.
There are about 200 people on my block, based on what I could gauge from my municipal election zone. I see the postal workers quickly moving from home to home on foot.
I also fear the community mailboxes will be significantly uglier in areas such as mine, which have a combination of lovely architecture and small streets.
Auspost has a full spectrum of delivery vehicles vans and cars for remote area\parcels, postie bikes (honda ct110 (though apparently they are replacing these)) for suburban areas, bicycles for denser and trolleys and walking for dense areas
I lived in the 'hood' - Malvern - in a house that was built in 2001 and I got door-to-door delivery even though houses built at the same time in Markham (just north of Toronto) were on community mailboxes.
How much of a say does the local Post Office have in how much service it will provide new developments?
Where I live, the primary determinant of whether you get home delivery is the age of your community.
Personally, I'd rather see delivery cut on Saturday than have a community mailbox.
wait... in that case, i don't think i've ever had urban home mail delivery. who gets door delivered door to door in a city? large brownstone-type SFRs?
My last house in Toronto was built in late 2001, and even though it was in the less dense northeast outskirts of the city, I had delivery to the door. At that same time, all suburban neighborhoods a few intersections north of me were getting community mailboxes for quite some time.
Those outside town have the shared boxes you describe.
I actually drove up to Alaska as a tourist too and stumbled upon Whitehorse. I liked it so much I decided to come back and live here.
Unfortunately, it's very much not off the beaten path, it's quite literally on the Alaska Highway, and thus gets an enormous amount of through traffic in the summer.
If you want to do identity theft, garbage cans are where to look. They're almost never locked.
If you get a package that can fit in one that doesn't require a signature, the mail carrier will drop the package in there and put its key in your mail compartment. After you pick up your package, you drop the key off in the outbound mail slot at the top of the box. It's very convenient.
I'll debate that 'more affluent' part.
Superboxes are significant structures that have to be built and maintained to withstand literally unending vandalism and attempts at theft. They are urban blight, and most quickly become an eyesore that are, by federally forced mandate, pushed onto a community and then maintained at Canada Post's leisure and low level of standards. If any other business wanted to build such ominous structures throughout a neighborhood the barriers and costs would be enormous, and you talk about home delivery being subsidized? [In that self-destructive, race-to-the-bottom, worst-outcome-for-all way that is so disheartening].
Give me a break.
Where a mail carrier once walked briskly through a neighborhood (doubling as a set of eyes and ears in the community, for what that's worth), now they park their truck and sit at the superbox for half an hour while they sort mail into boxes.
I cannot, for the life of me, comprehend how it has made anything more efficient. And of course the grossly inefficient Canada Post of today, with sky-high postal rates and terrible service standards, already is horribly inefficient, so shouldn't the superbox thing have been proven by now?
And it's curious that you note their security given that most have keys that endure for years (from owner to owner to owner), and they are -- right now -- very common target for thieves: Why bother suspiciously going door to door (where the residents would be more likely to quickly retrieve their mail anyways, instead of some common box down the street) when you can pry open a superbox and steal the mail of dozens of people at once.
Canada Post has always been a derelict, massively dysfunctional corporation. Their parcel delivery service is only profitable because they don't deliver parcels: They give you a delivery notice and force you to drive to a depot n miles away in the most grotesquely inefficient delivery scheme devised by man.
I actually worked part-time as a mail carrier doing home delivery once. It's not easy work, especially in the winter. A lot of people don't maintain their driveways and walkways in the winter and it can be hazardous especially when you're carrying 15 kg or more of mail.
CMBs aren't high-security. But they're surely more secure than unlocked home mailboxes, especially in sleepy suburban neighbourhoods where no one is home for most of the day.
I don't disagree that Canada Post could likely save money in other ways. But this seems to be a rational place to start.
Imagine that UPS figured that delivering packages to your door is a real sucker's game, and they were in a monopoly industry where they could unilaterally make moves that competitors couldn't competitively undermine.
So they want to build big, onerous, eyesore structures everywhere throughout a neighborhood.
How much do you think it would cost them to do that? What do you think they will pay to rent the spaces, for instance?
Canada Post pays nothing. The federal government just forced it on municipalities. To make this even more built on imaginary economics, Canada Post forces developers to pay for Canada Post to install the superboxes ($200 per address).
One of those beautiful forms of downloading that of course end-users pay for, but somehow it saves the end user money.
In any case, Canada Post does not publish numbers for CMBs. They publish numbers for group mailboxes (how credible and all inclusive they are we certainly don't know), which includes a massive array of group deliveries, of which superboxes are a subset.
I actually worked part-time as a mail carrier doing home delivery once. It's not easy work, especially in the winter.
I'm not saying it is. But what is happening here is a battle between the union and Canada Post, and both are a part of the problem. One of the reasons home delivery has so many imaginary expenses is that it is a secret known country wide that doing home delivery is a dream job because you are paid for the route, but most carriers can complete the route in a small fraction of a work day, though it is assessed, over long battled union rules, as a full work day.
It's a battle of imaginary work and imaginary expenses, and in the end everyone loses.
The Deutsche Post DHL Packstations are tied into SMS notifications, and are an optional location you can have letters or parcels delivered to after you've registered for the service. They are located at places like supermarkets. I don't know for certain, but as a private company, I'm sure that DHL is covering the costs of the packstations and making it work from a business perspective.
Other package delivery services like Hermes take different approaches, using convenience stores, bookshops, and other small businesses in the area as package drop-off/pickup centres.
I always find it interesting how weirdly old-fashioned the discussion around mail service monopoly is in the US and Canada while 'socialist' Europe privatized the national postal systems years ago, and Deutsche Post fully lost their monopoly on letter delivery in 2008.
You raise another good point that the cost of home delivery is inflated by the pay-by-distance union rules. But this issue is close to intractable. Given the political reality of this situation, do you think postal workers will give up these rules without a long, disruptive strike? Do you think the government wants to get within 10 miles of another postal strike?
Except now, it's not anywhere, it's somewhat adjacent to anywhere.
What the GP means is that Canada Post serves all areas of the country. If you try to send a package to a rural area via UPS, they'll charge you courier rates and then just mail it for you.
It's easy to understand why. It takes less time and effort to deliver to a group mailbox. (The mail has to be sorted regardless of which delivery method is used.)
It's not Canada Post's mandate to act as federally-paid community watchmen in the middle of the day.
If you think Canada Post is dysfunctional, just read some reports about the US Postal Service. In Canada, Canada Post outlets are often found within other businesses (e.g. pharmacies), to share infrastructure costs. That's rare in the US, where postal outlets are usually stand-alone.
As far as security is concerned, as someone who lives in a household where no one is around the take the mail in during the day, I'd much rather have something confidential delivered to my locked superbox down the street than have it delivered to an unlocked mailbox near my front door that anyone can access freely.
This mailbox proposal would put mailboxes in everyone's backyard.
Suspiciously door-to-door? Slap a newspaper bag over your shoulder like you're delivering fliers and go collect everyone's mail.
Quickly retrieve their mail? Most people are at work for hours before and after the mail is delivered.
I've lived in communities with both services. I prefer home delivery, because it's more convenient to me. But if you think it's easier to break into the super-boxes than it is to steal someone's home delivered mail, you're out of your mind. Luckily, community morals make either mostly a non-issue.
Rampant? 4800 issues reported in BC over a 5 year period, in a province with over 20,000 community mailboxes. Issues include non-theft things like graffiti and other vandalism. Haven't found more detailed info, would appreciate a link if you have one.
The level of audacity it takes to assault and rob a government employee, versus casually walking into someone's driveway and grabbing their mail are not even close.
I have people delivering fliers to my mailbox multiple times a week. It would take no effort for them to grab my mail and stick it in their sack.
But again, I don't think "the ease at which your mail can be stolen" should even be part of this argument, as it's apparently significantly low in most cases.
Admittedly one-to-many box is a more complicated device than a many-to-one, but the principal is still the same - it is perfectly possible to maintain such infrastructure, anyway.
Oh, wait, the horizontal axis doesn't start at 0.
At the average rate of decline (constant ~4.5% decrease in mail delivered per year), it should reach 10% of 2008's usage by 2050. This obviously does not reflect reality, and it's just a napkin calculation.
I havne't received junk mail in over a year.
To me, this is the same as telcos complaining about the last mile problem. It's expensive to deliver something to someone's house, particularly when people choose to live in sprawling neighborhoods with little connectivity in terms of roads. If I have to drive to someone's house, would I rather deliver a letter for 60 cents or less (bulk mail), or a parcel for $4 to $10?
Just like the telcos, the government grants the postal service a monopoly on first class letters so that they, amongst other things, guarantee connectivity to remote parts of the country at a flat rate. If that's important either the government has to pony up tax money to provide the service, or the cost of the service has to go up. One thing the government has been unwilling to do is charge different prices depending on how much a letter actually costs to send. I'm certain people in remote communities might balk, but maybe dynamic pricing makes sense, particularly when anyone can print their own postage with cheap laser/inkjet printers.
Larger packages or those that require a signature are usually dropped off at the mail depot at a nearby drug store, which is open late.
When I buy online, especially from the US, I try to ship via USPS for this reason (also because they don't add exorbitant Canadian brokerage fees the way UPS and FedEx do).
Outrageous is an understatement.
1) Call/Email UPS and request a commercial invoice and the depot the parcel is being held at. If it's not being held at a depot tell them you want to self-clear and for them to hold it. You may have to argue with them for a while to convince them this is a possibility.
2) Go to a CBSA office with the original receipt, commercial invoice and depot location, and pay taxes to get your B15 form. You shouldn't pay taxes on shipping.
3) Call UPS and ask them where you can send the B15 form.
4) Send them the B15 form with your tracking number on it and ask them to release your package.
Well you actually have to do it way before that. My package was held at the border in Windsor/Detroit for a few days before it cleared. Once it's on a truck to your house, it's already too late to avoid brokerage fees.
What's sad is that UPS actually offers a slightly higher rate (only a few bucks more) that bypasses the brokerage fees, etc on shipments to Canada.
The problem is that most smaller online sellers don't know about it or care to research it.
I have to wonder whether this will mean a huge boon to mail scanning services like outboxmail.com
If you have a newer community mailbox, smaller packages get left in a larger compartment in the community mailbox and they leave the compartment key in your own mailbox.
After you pick it up, you drop the key in the outbound mail compartment. It's very handy if you're not home to receive packages. In a way, it's like BufferBox.
So, while I can understand the desire to reduce costs on the part of Canada Post, I thought they offered zero convenience to users.
And going out in the cold and the snow to fetch my mail in winter in a sidewalk-less neighbourhood was really not a pleasant experience (even if they were not very far from our house).
Or when they slip in the slush and ruin their mail when coming back from the community mailbox.
I don't even open my mail anymore. They are just bills. I look at the sender, and then log onto their website. It's almost like a reminder, incase I forget to pay a bill.
Actually, now that I think of it, I only get bills from 1 or 2 companies. The other text/email me.
I think it would have given a better scale to indicate how much the rise of the internet has effected traditional mail delivery.
I don't have to worry about being home to sign for the package, and for stuff coming from the US via USPS, I don't have to worry about exorbitant surcharges from the likes of Fedex or UPS.
OTOH, it's nice that UPS Canada's standard shipping no longer requires you to be at home (signature not required) but you also have to worry about people stealing your package if you live in a dodgy neighborhood.
They're not perfect, but they're definitely the least awful option.
What factors allow USPS to be cheaper for the consumer while providing better service?
Perhaps increased competition in the Canadian market makes it harder for them to make the profits needed to subsidise their mail delivery.
Compare this to UPS or Purolator (which Canada post owns the majority of). They always try to deliver packages in between noon and 5pm, when I (and probably most other people) am never home. They each have one bloody depot in the city, open roughly 12-5 naturally, and it's a freakin' half-hour drive out of the way. Invariably, I have to go out of my way to drive over to their office to pick up my packages because they are incapable of delivery during the hours I am home (and they won't just drop off packages over a certain value). Though purolator may be owned by Canada post, they do not use Canada Post's last-mile infrastructure. Horrendous! Isn't the point of paying extra for a courier convenience?
If Canada Post were to take over last-mile delivery from UPS and Purolator, or at least take over the failed deliveries so customers only have to go to the local post-office, they could bring in extra cash while vastly improving service to customers. Why on Earth isn't this being done, if not for UPS (which can burn in HELL for all I care), at the very least for Purolator?
P.S. UPS is utter bloody crap for cross-border shipments. Any U.S. vendor who only ships via UPS does not get my business. The common joke up here is that "UPS stands for Use Purolator Stupid!".
That's why vendors that operate internationally choose UPS, the only courier that can deliver from a factory in China to a doorstep almost anywhere on the planet without having to hand it over to local services, which will vary wildly in quality.
Also, nobody wants to pay the extortionate prices an old school state monopoly like Canada Post apparently is. It always surprises me that North-America holds on to their state systems where in Europe all of this is being privatized and post offices are disappearing. The monopolistic postal service is exactly why competitors can't invest in a better service.
In short, UPS can suck it. Horrible, horrible company. They're fine if you're shipping from the U.S. to the U.S., or perhaps even from China to the U.S, but from the U.S. to Canada they are horrendous. Avoid at all costs!
Such a system would reduce waste and encourage digital of documents, invoices, etc. +1.
Here in the US (I know, I know - different) a great deal of my daily mail is marketing material. I would definitely not walk to my post box to reach it so the reach / impact for advertisers would go down. Reduced impact would bring reduced spending. I think mailed marketing material is somewhat outmoded and wasteful, but I definitely still see it and thumb through my catalogs.
Yeah, I'm kidding... though it might actually work.
Additionally: If mobility is an issue and its a good that must come physically to you (prescription for example), then its of value to pay UPS/Fedex/DHL/Competitor to come to your door.
Easier to have a common area. We already have that outside cities anyway.