Postal carriers struggle on treacherous routes as mail keeps piling up

Mail carriers are dealing with a serious backlog as many parts of Greater Victoria have not had mail or parcel delivery from Canada Post for nearly a week, according to the union representing postal delivery workers.

Brian Jamieson, first vice-president with CUPW Local 850, said it has been a tough week for all delivery workers on the south Island.

article continues below

Canada Post twice issued yellow alerts for Vancouver Island this week, meaning weather conditions resulted in delays in mail processing.

“While all our corporate vehicles have mountain and snow-rated tires, many of them, particularly the step vans, are very light and, therefore, have little traction on slippery surfaces in the snow, even when loaded with mail,” Jamieson said.

With a change in weather and improved road conditions, he expected his members to be blitzing the streets. “There will be heavier than normal loads to deliver as we make up for the lost days, so as always we would like to remind homeowners to make sure to shovel and clear their sidewalks and stairs,” he said.

The vast majority of postal routes in the region are “mobile routes” — mail carriers drive to delivery areas, then walk in predetermined loops delivering mail.

Until late Wednesday, there were few places delivery vehicles could get access to, making it difficult or impossible for carriers to make deliveries.

Some carriers attempted to deliver mail Monday, but most “got very little done before the next wave of snow began in the afternoon,” Jamieson said.

Canada Post suspended delivery on Tuesday, then offered carriers the option of delivering on Wednesday.

“Many did. However, some with delivery areas in more remote residential areas chose to [work] inside or assist other carriers on heavier routes,” he said. “Consequently, there are some areas of Victoria that may not have had mail and parcel delivery since last Friday.”

Courier companies in Victoria have also felt the pain of the heavy snow and winter conditions.

Al Hasham, owner of Maximum Express Courier, said they closed their doors on Tuesday for the first time since the blizzard of 1996.

“The good thing about ’96 is it happened between Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve — it was already a holiday season so we didn’t feel it as much then,” he said.

The company closed one day this week and reduced by half the number of vehicles on the road Monday and Wednesday. It typically has 18 vehicles in Victoria and 10 in Vancouver.

“And just when we thought we were done with this, it starts again,” Hasham said as snow fell Thursday afternoon. “Wednesday we got our bearings and today was a decent day, but if this snow continues I don’t know what [today] will look like.”

Hasham said the big problem is unplowed residential streets.

“A lot of deliveries haven’t been able to get to homes and home-based businesses and homes on hills that haven’t been plowed,” he said.

“Some people haven’t been able to get out, and we can’t get in.”

aduffy@timescolonist.com

Read Related Topics

© Copyright Times Colonist

Find out what's happening in your community.

Most Popular