Islanders with mobility issues dread community mailboxes

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The thought of having to venture out to a community mailbox strikes fear in many people accustomed to home delivery of mail.

Canada Post mailboxes

Yet that is a reality Canadians not already making a trek to get their mail have learned they will be facing in the not-too-distant future. Canada Post unveiled sweeping changes Wednesday that will end all home mail delivery within five years and replace it with communal mailboxes.

Marcia Carroll, executive director of the P.E.I. Council of People with Disabilities, says people with serious mobility issues dread the eventual change that will leave them to their own devices to retrieve their mail.

“People are very concerned...people are nervous and they are scared,’’ says Carroll.

“They are wondering how it is going to effect them. They’re feeling very, very vulnerable and threatened.’’

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Carroll says research shows that people with disabilities have been experiencing negative impacts with community mailboxes. Access is a challenge, particularly in winter.

Also, she adds, the crime element is a concern.

“There have been many documented cases of people being robbed at the (community) mailbox especially during cheque day,’’ says Carroll.

“They really need that door-to-door service and it also helps to break down isolation,’’ she adds. “It is that daily contact.’’

Scott Gaudet says many senior citizens look forward each day to the arrival of letter carriers like him.

He has one senior customer on his route in Summerside that regularly greets him at the door. He has concerns for how the woman, who uses a wheelchair to get around, will cope when she faces the shift to community mailboxes in her area.

“The individual is not going to be able to collect her mail,’’ says Gaudet.

“She will need to rely on somebody to get it for her and that is unacceptable.’’

He estimates about 200 of the approximately 700 customers on his route are seniors and/or people with physical disabilities.

“So it is going to impact a lot of people just on my route,’’ he says.

Sr. Norma Gallant, president of the P.E.I. Senior Citizens Federation, says seniors in rural areas have been having problems with community mailboxes ever since they were put into rural areas.

She says seniors are concerned about their safety when taking out valuable mail. They are also afraid of taking a tumble, she adds.

Organizations: Canada Post, P.E.I. Council of People, P.E.I. Senior Citizens Federation

Geographic location: Summerside

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