Rural Mail

Canada Post has insisted many rural mailboxes be moved to new, often awkward locations. Tell us your story.

September 9, 2009 | | Web Extras

Canada Post has insisted many rural mailboxes be moved to new, often awkward locations – on the grounds of carrier safety.

HAS your mailbox MOVED?

How does this affect the safety and convenience of homeowners?

Is this the first step in eliminating door-to-door rural delivery?

Please tell us your thoughts!

Signe Ball, Publisher/Editor of the print edition of In the Hills, tells her own story. Tell us yours (in the box at the bottom of the page).

When the little yellow flag popped up 40 yards north of our current mailbox, and the note arrived from Canada Post telling us to move our mailbox accordingly, I was all for a little civil disobedience – driving up and down the lines and pulling out and trashing all those annoying little flags.

Like most rural mailboxes, ours was at the end of our driveway. We drove up, grabbed the mail and turned left into our laneway. At the new location, we have four choices: pick up the mail then back up to the laneway; pick up the mail and make a U-turn on the crest of the hill; pick up the mail and drive a couple of miles around the concession block; or park the car in the laneway and walk the 80-yard return trip to the mailbox.

For the most part, we have chosen the last option. It’s not such a long walk – in the summer, with the shoulders clear, for those in good health. And the fact that every member of the family stops on their way in to check the mail is also not such a big deal – in the summer… etc.canadapost-safety-brochure_en-1

I’m all for the carrier safety Canada Post claims is the reason for the imposed changes. But there was nothing dangerous about our mailbox location for an attentive driver, and it is now the residents’ safety that is at risk.

Most rural post offices have slowly disappeared over time. Those that remained in Caledon were closed a couple of years ago and delivery centralized out of Brampton – followed by mail delivery chaos that is only finally, though not fully, settling down.

This latest $300 million exercise (yes, you read that number right!) in downgrading the quality of rural mail service comes at time when the future of rural economic development (much touted by the federal government) depends increasingly on home-based businesses. And – message to Canada Post! – those businesses depend on regular and convenient mail delivery.

My husband restrained me from ripping up the flags, and like most rural residents, we stalled and grumbled and then complied. When we called Canada Post to tell them we had moved the darn thing and they could start delivering our mail again, the nice, anonymous man at the other end of the line delivered the coup de grâce.

“Thank you for choosing Canada Post,” he said.

If you have a complaint about the “Rural Mail Safety Assessment Program,” call 1-866-501-1669. You’ll get patted on the head and told nothing can be done  – but do register your complaint anyway, not only with Canada Post, but with MP David Tilson, 519-941-1832 (Orangeville constituency office), 1-613-995-7813 (Ottawa office), [email protected].

For more information, read Canada Post’s frequently asked questions about rural mail delivery at

Signe Ball

Tell us what you think!

About the Author More by Online Editor



  1. I too have been affected by the “Rural Mail box Safety Assessment” – the box you understand has been there for more than 40 years with no problems that I have known and I have lived on this road since 1965 … in my case my only viable option other than a community mailbox or post office box was to move the box more than 50 yds down the road – it would be on my neighbor’s property. And how safe to walk for me in the winter time on an icy road especially on the sides?

    I am against that because even if she agreed to this if she ever moved – well I could be left in a fix – and on two seconds notice. No not an option. When they came I offered a 4th alternative – to move it farther down on my property – they agreed to “assess” the issue – they would wait to see if any traffic came down so they could test their criteria. Well none could have come in that time because they brought their own car plus an additional one (at whose expense I wonder) to test it out 3 days later. Well you can guess the outcome – “no go” she said.

    At any rate I did go for the community mailbox option to which I am changing ( called their customer service hotline ) my mind – opting for a post office box – figuring the post office a safer option than the community boxes personally I wonder about their safety. And in truth unless weather is bad I am out town every day. And if I move again within the town address can be the same.

    What bothers me most is that there is no communication as to what their criteria is other than the issue of the hill – person that came to the door was nice I will say that as was the Customer Service person on the hotline. But it is the fact they do not tell you what their criteria is – in my case she blamed in on the hill just above my house. True it is somewhat risky but that is what defensive driving is all about in my mind and this box like others on my road have been there for years.

    In the end – just one frustrating situation.

    Nancy Tippett on Aug 24, 2011 at 12:26 am | Reply

  2. Our subdivision has a mix of individual mail boxes at properties and community boxes at the end of the street. We fall into the second category.

    It occurred to me,having seen many flags planted around the subdivision (indicating boxes are to be moved), that our ‘community boxes’ placed by the Mail Service/Post office themselves – is actually very close (just a few paces) to the corner of our street.

    There are 3 separate community boxes. Often more than one car pulls in at the same time, with other cars and school buses turning into the road trying to manouver around us. Do you think we should place a ‘moving’ flag, suggesting they bring them in from the corner? Just a thought!


    Alison Hird on Nov 21, 2009 at 8:36 pm | Reply

  3. The second topic in our household this week – after the cougar sightings. Our mailbox too was requested to be moved. The reason was that it was not the correct distance from the top of the hill to the south of our driveway. Apparently having something to do with drivers not being able to see the mail delivery car or some such thing. I too am all for our wonderful mail lady being kept safe. She is very nice and we would not like to see her have an accident. I know she is also not the person responsible for the required relocation of the mailbox. Our mailbox is currently at the end of our driveway on the opposite side of the road (beside the southbound lane of traffic). I could see the reason for concern if the hill was to the north of us as someone could come over a hill quickly and hit the mail delivery car which would be in the same lane. Our hill is to the south of the mailbox which is only a problem for oncoming traffic and since there is a solid line down the centre it should not be a problem at all. Oh, did I mention that the other issue for it being moved is that the shoulder of the road is not large enough for the carriers vehicle to pull over completely on? Since we just had our road completely reconstructed and freshly paved wouldn’t it have been appropriate to have this addressed at that time? And yes, Canada Post knew about it at the time as they removed our mail service to the sorting station off “C” Line (without warning and no indication as to where to pick-up our mail) due to the construction and the fact that all of the mailboxes were pulled out by the road works. Perhaps when Canada Post was driving up and down for 2 or 3 days during this construction they could have indicated where they would have like the mailboxes to be relocated to. Oh. Sorry. Too easy. Now our box is to be still on the other side of the road but approximately 50 feet to the North (not a problem), beside a new driveway our neighbour had put into his field for tractor access. Good thing I hadn’t moved it yet or last week the combine would have completely removed and crushed it. Sag. And we march on!

    Diane Griffith on Nov 16, 2009 at 8:03 pm | Reply

  4. My home is on 4th line OS Melancthon, and mail delivery has been made without incident to the box opposite the driveway entrance since the house was built, about ten years ago. The road is straight with an 80km speed limit, and is in places narrow and somewhat undulating; a mail carrier pausing for a few seconds is considerably less at risk than a car pulling out of some of the local driveways, or than a pedestrian or cyclist, and the local carrier is not complaining, using due vigilance when pausing.

    Canada Post has dictated that a number of boxes, including mine, be moved, in a number of instances with no obvious advantage to the carrier, and in some cases, such as my own, creating a very dangerous situation for the user. I appealed the decision, and was visited by representatives from Canada Post. They admitted that to walk the 100 yards to the proposed new site would be hazardous and put me at considerable risk because the road is narrow, the speed limit often disregarded, and deep ditches on either side mean there is nowhere for an unprotected walker to go in emergency: the situation is considerably worse when the road is slippery or wet (when I would challenge even Ben Johnson to negotiate the 100 yards fast enough to cover the distance safely ahead of on-coming vehicles).

    It is totally impractical, especially in winter, as well as being environmentally undesirable, to use a car to collect mail, and the Canada Post officials offered, as their only alternative to the box move, a space at a group box in town, or a box in the post office also in town, 4km distant, initially without charge, but involving the added considerable inconvenience of the ensuing change of address.

    The system here has posed no problem, and this would appear to be an indirect step, countrywide, towards eliminating rural mail delivery,and hardly a green alternative.

    Best wishes, Susan Ware
    [received by email]

    site admin on Oct 14, 2009 at 1:25 am | Reply

  5. Canada Post expects us to move our rural mailbox to the moon. Well, not exactly to the moon, but it may as well be. Our mailbox has been located by our driveway for decades.

    Now, however, Canada Post wants it moved 120 m down the road to a swampy area, frequently besieged by fog, and blowing snow in winter. It is also a favourite spot for cars to run off the road into the ditch. Canada Post is putting us at risk when walking or driving to the mailbox at their proposed site.

    Speaking with officials at Rural Mail Safety Review Customer Service was futile. They would not provide answers to questions about specific criteria considered for chosing their so-called “better” site. The impression is that they don’t know and that their bosses don’t want them to know.

    Our mailbox at its present location is no hazard for the mail carrier and it is safe for us. Canada Post’s protestations to the contrary, the safety issue is not the motive for the measure for relocating our mailbox, but the reduction in the number of rural mailboxes and their eventual elimination likely is!

    It’s only a matter of time before Canada Post puts more services under the chopping block to appease the demands the union workers.

    Michele Zaichuk
    [submitted by email]

    site admin on Oct 1, 2009 at 6:20 pm | Reply

  6. I will not move my mailbox because I fear for my safety. The new location is at the bottom of a slight hill 250ft south of the original location. The roads in the winter are already more narrow due to the pile up of snow. I will be forced to walk to my mailbox on this narrow icy road and I worry that cars may come speeding over the hill and not see me until the last minute. They may panic, hit the breaks and swerve out of control. Why is Canada post and the Government not concerned about my safety? What has to happen before someone becomes concerned about the publics safety?
    Eleonora Cignini
    Mono Adjala Townline

    Eleonora Cignini on Sep 25, 2009 at 8:53 am | Reply

  7. Canada Post has now implemented its safety policy, a program which forces all rural residents to move their mailboxes to locations which, according to Canada Post will ensure the safety of the mail delivery staff.

    It is understood that an “external expert panel employing scientific criteria” was engaged to study this safety issue and submit its recommendations to Canada Post.

    The process clearly failed to consider the difficulties and dangers that the location changes would impose on the aged and handicapped. In fact what has resulted from this well intentioned program is the transfer of danger to the mail recipient who is now required to walk to the new location to retrieve the mail.

    There are 183,000 rural mailboxes across Canada and over the past four years management has received 2400 employee complaints, Canada wide. Of these complaints 40 were health and safety related, but no specifics have been revealed.

    It is unlikely that these imposed changes to mailbox locations will provide the increase in safety for the delivery staff. Accidents are primarily caused by inattention, carelessness, speed and alcohol. No mathematical formula devised by scientific specialists will achieve the degree of safety claimed.

    My mailbox has been in the same location for 5o+ years without incident but, under threat from the authorities that my mail would be held at General Delivery if I failed to relocate it by September 14th. I decided it would be wiser to have it moved than to drive the 28 km to pick up any incoming mail. The cost: $150 plus the post

    This new location is next to a cow pasture and opposite an open field. It is eight feet off of the roadway and about 70 yards east of its original location. In winter the snow plough dumps the snow exactly where the post is now located, the nearest house is about 150 yards to the east.

    I am a handicapped veteran of WW 2 and am unable to walk safely without crutches. To traverse the distance from my home to the new mailbox location along the gravel road is beyond my capability and extremely dangerous, especially in the winter. For that reason I appealed to the president and CEO of Canada Post on three occasions for relief and she responded only to the first of my three e-mails and that letter did not address my appeal.

    Mail delivery service has been exemplary to this point, but this program is transferring to the unprotected customer a level of exposure to accident that exceeds by far that to which the mail delivery persons might be exposed. They deliver in a vehicle with a flashing light on the roof while the customer has no protection in the event of mishap.

    K. Mesure.
    [Submitted by email]

    admin on Sep 21, 2009 at 10:57 pm | Reply

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