Morley Brown has lived in his family’s farmhouse along Hwy. 89, outside of Shelburne for his entire life, and for over 60 years Canada Post has delivered to the family home’s rural mailbox.
While the mailbox has remained in the same location, on the south side of Hwy. 89, Canada Post is no longer delivering his and his wife’s mail to the rural box, after conducting a review on health and safety.
“The mailbox has been there all this time, and probably for 30 or 40 years before that,” explained Brown to the Free Press.
On Jan. 19, the Browns received a letter from Canada Post notifying them that the location of their mailbox had failed a Traffic Safety Assessment Tool (TSAT) due to health and safety regulations. The Traffic Safety Assessment Tool (TSAT) sets criteria for assessing rural mailboxes and measures factors such as volume on the road, type of traffic, speed and how close passing cars will get before they can see the mail-carrier vehicle stopped at the mailbox.
The letter from Canada Post gave the Browns two options; to either receive their mail at a community mail box at the Shelburne Canada Post location, or to cluster with their neighbour further down the road.
Being in his 70s, Brown has tried to limit the number of times he goes into town due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I don’t go into town every day and that was one of the things that you liked about the rural boxes, you didn’t have to go to town,” said Brown. “I won’t go into the post office with COVID going on, they’re trying their best I know but these buildings weren’t meant for social distancing.”
Brown also notes that the location, suggested by Canada Post, is about 1000 feet down the road from his house, and located on the same side of the road.
“If it’s unsafe to deliver the mail there, why would it be safe for me to walk down 1000 feet, on this unsafe road,” said Brown.
In the summer of last year, the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) started a road project, resurfacing the strip of Hwy. 89 outside of Brown’s home. During that time he said access to their mail box was limited, and it was then that they started having issues with mail delivery.
“There were days that the mail person could not stop at the post or get to the mailbox so she would drive in, give me my mail, and drive out,” said Brown. Sometime after that, mail delivery to their home stopped all together.
On October 29, 2020, the Browns were notified that the mailbox had not passed the Canada Post TSAT. When the construction on the roadway wrapped, their mailbox was removed by the construction company, but later replaced in the same spot by the MTO just before Christmas.
“The mailperson saw the mailbox was there and started delivering the mail again,” said Brown.
For two weeks after Christmas their mail was delivered at the rural box, until they were notified again on Jan. 19.
While mailboxes can be seen on the same side of the road until Violet Hill, Brown said he doesn’t know if his neighbours are also being told to make the change.
“I’m the only one they don’t like,” he remarked.
Valerie Chartrand, a spokesperson from Canada Post in an email to the Free Press said, “After applying our Traffic Safety Assessment Tool (TSAT) for mail delivery to this address, it was determined that the road guardrail installed near this rural mail box constituted a safety hazard for our delivery employee as they could no longer stop their vehicle off the road.”
Brown has looked into moving the box to the north side of the road, at the end of his driveway, but Canada Post’s rural mailbox rules require the box to be on the right hand side of the road in the direction the carrier travels, and cannot placed in laneways of driveways.
While he understands the need for safety and says he wouldn’t want to see a driver hurt, he would like to be able to receive his mail at his home.
For now Brown’s wife continues to make the trip into town to collect their mail.
Paula Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shelburne Free Press