Petrolia residents are scratching their heads and businesses are counting the costs after learning Canada Post is changing the way almost everyone in town addresses their mail.
Last week, Canada Post began sending out notices and new keys to people who use the main post office. “Postal Box customers will no longer be required to include their PO Box number in their mailing address,” says the note each person received. “We ask that you please start using your municipal address.”
It adds each resident and business will be assigned a new mail box number, which should not be used when addressing mail.
Canada Post Spokesman Mouktar Abdillahi says it is “more efficient” to make the change. “It will be more efficient in making sure the mail reaches the right person and allows us to correlate our data with 9-1-1 addresses. It makes more intuitive sense than having a post office box.”
Abdillahi couldn’t say what percentage of mail fails to reach its destination because of the postal box system nor could he quantify how the change would make operations more efficient for Canada Post.
Abdillahi says the change will also make it easier for people to shop online. “Sometimes it is a problem with shopping on line because some sites won’t accept post office boxes as addresses,” he says. “The world around us is changing and we have to adapt to it.”
Along with the switch to municipal addressing, Canada Post will be building a new parcel box accessible to people whose mail is delivered to the post office. Any parcels delivered to residents will be placed in the locked area and the resident or business will receive a key in their mailbox to unlock the area and retrieve their parcel at any time.
Abdillahi would not say how much money Canada Post is investing in the new space.
or how much it would cost to switch from the use of postal boxes to municipal addresses saying it was propitiatory information.
He admits there may be confusion when the change takes place May 16 but Canada Post has taken steps to make sure people’s mail arrives to the right box. All post office box holders will have their mail redirected to their new box for an entire year.
The move has been met by surprise. Petrolia Mayor John McCharles says people have been talking to him about the big switch, questioning why Canada Post is making the change.
For some, like McCharles 92-year-old father-in-law who has had the same post office box for nearly 50 years – it was confusing. “He’s totally upset and frustrated and in wonderment as to why they would have to change the box number,” he says.
Town officials are also wondering about the move. Chief Administrative Officer Manny Baron says it will take office staff a lot of time to work through the municipal tax bills to change all the addresses so the invoices get to the right address. “It’s not a tangible cost but it is an administrative cost,” he says.
And Baron says there is likely to be a significant cost to change letterhead, business cards and promotional material because of the change. The town recently changed its municipal branding and waited to change letterhead until most of the old stationary was used. Now it will have to reinvest because of the postal change.
Baron says most businesses will face the same costs. Abdillahi says the one- year of free mail forwarding should help ease that concern, allowing businesses to use up old stationary before making the change.
“This process of changing civic address something part of what Canada Post is doing throughout the country,” he says. “It’s a long process…but civic addressing is part of a strategy for Canada Post for rural communities…it is what makes sense and it is effective, efficient and convenient for the customer,” says Abdillahi.
McCharles isn’t so sure from the feedback he’s received saying it is already causing confusion. “There must be a hidden agenda,” he says adding most people are upset but also resigned to the change saying Canada Post isn’t likely to change its mind. “People see Canada Post as just another government bureaucracy that is out of control,” says McCharles.