By Denise Deby –
Nick Aplin is concerned about Canada Post’s decision to end home mail delivery, and not just because the 81-year-old Westboro resident receives mail almost every weekday.
“I support door-to-door mail delivery because it’s just one of the attributes of the kind of society that I wish to live in,” says Aplin, a retired civil structural engineer. “I’m so, so irritated with the reduction, by this government, in the role of government and the attack on the poor and the least privileged, and this is just another example of that.”
“I think it’s quite deliberate as an attempt to make it more difficult for people to feel a sense of social solidarity,” adds Aplin, whose parents raised him in 1930’s Toronto. “There was a real sense of ‘we’re all in this together.’ That social solidarity really got them—and me, the youngest one in the family—through the depression.”
Aplin was one of three speakers, with Peter Denley of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers and activist Shellie Bird, at a Kitchissippi Town Hall meeting on “Defend Our Home Mail Delivery” held April 9 at the Hintonburg Community Centre. About 50 people attended the event, organized by Solidarity Against Austerity, a network of community, labour, peace and anti-poverty activists.
According to the speakers and several participants, cutting home postal delivery is unnecessary and will download costs to municipalities, increase vehicle use, and adversely affect seniors, people with mobility issues and home-based businesses, among others.
In written statements, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said he’s expressed objections to Canada Post service reductions, and Kitchissippi ward councillor, Katherine Hobbs, said she doesn’t support community mailboxes in the urban core. Kitchissippi ward candidates Dovi Chein and Jeff Leiper, and Ottawa Centre NDP provincial candidate Jennifer McKenzie, also attended, the latter two speaking in favour of retaining home delivery.
In December 2013, Canada Post announced plans to phase out home delivery over the next five years, and to increase stamp prices, change internal operations and cut jobs. In fall 2014, 7,900 Kanata addresses will be among the first in Canada to switch from home to community mailbox delivery.
Kevin Skerrett, a Solidarity Against Austerity volunteer who helped organize the April 9 meeting, says mail delivery is important to people, but they don’t have a way to be heard. The group decided to hold a meeting in Kitchissippi to engage residents in their neighbourhood and encourage municipal leaders to oppose the change, as their counterparts in some other Canadian municipalities have done.
“Despite people’s feelings of helplessness, there is a lot we can do,” says Skerrett.
Aplin, who has long advocated for peace and social justice, says it’s important for people to speak up. “We have to complain at the whittling away of the essential values of this society, that I think are values to be really treasured.”
Solidarity Against Austerity invites residents to sign a petition to Councillor Hobbs and Mayor Watson, and to get involved in future events. For more information go to maydayottawa.ca.
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