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Canada Post response to litter problem called irresponsible

The city has received a response from Canada Post following a Sept. 10 council resolution calling on the national mail carrier to tackle the growing nuisance of junk mail littering the ground around its super mailboxes, says Councillor Alan Shefman.

The resolution, which was drafted by Shefman and Ward 2 Councillor Tony Carella, and passed with near unanimous support, stated that any Vaughan resident not wanting to receive bulk mail should inform Canada Post directly. The resolution was also to be forwarded to the Crown corporation and other municipalities facing a similar garbage dilemma.

“We did get an interesting response from Canada Post and it was something to the effect of: ‘We have a system in place to deal with people who really aren’t interested in receiving any of this stuff. All they have to do is use that system and they’ll get taken off the list for the junk mail’,” Shefman said last week.

“The point is about them taking some responsibility for their business and their business is distribution of mail and what happens with that mail,” he added. “I don’t think they really get what our point is and maybe they just don’t want to.”

Albert Lee, Canada Post communications manager for the GTA region, said in a phone interview this week that the Crown corporation is in discussions with city staff on a possible co-branded letter to homes serviced by super mailboxes.

“The mailing to go out to super box customers is in the hopes of addressing the concerns of unaddressed ad mail and also in the hopes that people will do the responsible thing and take their ad mail home, review it and dispose of it in a responsible manner,” Lee said.

He added super mailbox customers could leave a note in their box notifying their letter carrier they no longer want to receive any bulk mail.

When the issue was first raised at the Sept. 4 committee of the whole meeting, Carella said he was hoping the resolution would pique the interest of other municipalities, getting them involved in engaging Canada Post in finding a solution. As he’d hoped, some jurisdictions have expressed interest, he said this week.

“I know we got some responses, but usually those responses just say, ‘We received your (resolution), it was considered by council and they approved it as an idea’,” Carella said in a phone interview.

Shefman, too, said he’s buoyed by what he called “very strong support” from other municipalities.

“We sent this out to a ton of municipalities and received the same response from everybody,” he said. “They’re also dealing with the same problem and they’re very frustrated in getting a reasonable response (from Canada Post).”

Prominent at several super mailboxes in Vaughan are recycling bins put out by fed up residents who have decided to do something about the litter problem. In some neighbourhoods, those residents have begun to organize and approach councillors for help.

“I was approached by a couple of people who live (near) this super mailbox,” Carella said, referring to residents on Water Garden Lane in Woodbridge. “They’d like to improve the streetscape around it and make it look a little more attractive.

“They proposed building a shelter over it. There are a lot of issues that come into play in executing this proposal so I brought this item to council.”

Supported by the Carrying Place Ratepayers’ Association, which is also willing to cover the expense, the proposal is currently being studied by city staff who will present a report back to council by the end of March.

According to Carella’s Oct. 1 motion, the initiative shown by residents and the ratepayers’ group is “nothing short of laudable”.

Despite the willingness of residents to act, Shefman questioned whether Canada Post would work with the city and neighbours of super mailboxes in any meaningful way toward finding a suitable solution.

“It would make them look good,” he said. “But they don’t get it; they don’t care.

“They’re something like other Crown corporations we deal with … who basically could care less,” Shefman added. “They only care about their own business and have no interest whatsoever in the communities they work in.”

Vaughan Today
Online: November 2, 2007
Byline: Philip Alves