Canada Post mailbox charge angers homebuilders

Nova Scotia homebuilders say homeowners will suffer the consequences of Canada Post's decision to charge $200 per address to install community mailboxes for new homes.

Canada Post will be charging developers for the new mailboxes starting in January and it's expected builders will pass along the fee to homebuyers.

"It's pure and simply a cash grab that's going to flow down to the person who buys the home," said Paul Pettipas, the chief executive officer of the Nova Scotia Home Builders' Association.

"We have no complaint that older houses get their mail delivered, it just doesn't make sense that you would give less service to new houses and charge them money."

One in four households in Canada — about 3.8 million Canadians — use community mailboxes. According to Canada Post, new residential and commercial developments add between 150,000 and 200,000 mailing addresses every year.

Canada Post says it can no longer afford to cover the full cost of installing community mailboxes.

Jon Hamilton, an Ottawa-based spokesman for Canada Post, said the charge is no different than paying to install street lights or fire hydrants in a new housing development.

"We're at a point right now with mail volumes on decline where we can't absorb the full cost anymore," said Hamilton.

"So we put out a letter to all developers and municipalities."

Hamilton said Canada Post ended last year with a record $327-million shortfall.

If 200,000 new mailing address are added next year with community mailboxes, Canada Post stands to get about $40 million in new revenue.

"If you've got a new subdivision they're going to pay this fee. If you've got an existing group of homes across the street, they get their mail delivered to their door and they don't pay a cent," said Pettipas.

"They're getting the first-class delivery at no charge and the new homeowner is paying $200 per address for second-class delivery."

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