Downtown Eastside to protest mail service suspension

A protest is being planned for next Tuesday to draw attention to the fact no mail is being delivered in a part of the Downtown Eastside.

A group called Our Homes Can’t Wait Coalition has fired off a letter to the Canadian Union of Postal Workers to call the temporary cancellation of services on East Hastings between Carrall and Hastings Streets “callous and inexcusable.”

Concerns over the health and safety of Canada Post workers prompted management to suspend mail delivery in the area back on March 23.

Canada Post has said there’s no estimated date when deliveries will resume while it works to find a long-term solution. In the meantime, the corporation said the safety of its employees takes priority.

However, the coalition’s Vince Tao says people who live in the neighbourhood need a seat at the table as a resolution is worked on.

“We’ve talked about it … with our Downtown Eastside members, residents, unhoused people, under-housed people, drug users, and they think that a compromise can be made,” he said. “If workers are uncomfortable on certain parts of the route we will happily walk with them as liaisons.”

“We need a little bit of imagination here when we come to a stalemate.”

Tao says the decision to suspend mail deliveries because of safety is unreasonable.

“The blunt instruments of a whole ban of delivery on two blocks is going too far,” he said. “There’s so many people there that rely on mail for their welfare, for their cheques, their pay. They’re not gonna get their mail for God knows how long.”

He fears the city’s solution will be to have police officers accompany the letter carriers.

“More money will be needed for police officers with guns to walk around the neighbourhood. So what we really need is for both Canada Post, and the union, and the City to sit and talk to us — as residents, as people who care about this neighborhood just as much as they do — more so because we live here.”

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For now, people at the affected addresses have to pick up their mail at 333 Woodland Drive. They need to provide government-issued photo identification to pick up their mail, which Tao says poses another barrier for vulnerable people. 

The protest is scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m., at Carrall and Hastings Streets on Tuesday.

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