It will take no longer to send a letter across town when local letter mail is processed off-Island, claims Canada Post.
On Monday, all Vancouver Island letter mail, which is now sorted in Victoria, will be trucked to the mainland for sorting at the Vancouver Mail Processing Plant.
Canada Post has lost huge volumes of letter mail to the Internet with the proliferation of private and commercial use of email.
The union representing mail handlers says moving sorting off-Island means delays, but Canada Post insists high-speed sorting machines can do the job so fast that it more than makes up for the time it takes to haul mail to Vancouver and back.
Currently, twinned mailboxes allow local mail to be sorted on-Island, but mail dropped in nontwinned boxes is already sorted off-Island, even if addressed to a local destination.
"We're not happy about it," said Janet Barney, president of Canadian Union of Postal Workers Local 850. "Now we've got mail that goes over there and it comes back a week later."
Barney said she routinely sees letters mailed from the Island that arrive a week after the postmark. The change is needed to improve efficiencies for the national mail service that saw letter mail fall by two billion pieces between 2006 and 2012 alone.
The Vancouver plant can handle 35,000 pieces of mail per hour, but no jobs will be cut. The union's collective agreement provides for job security, "they'll just do other jobs," Losier said.
The Crown corporation said the change will be seamless for customers in Nanaimo and elsewhere on the Island.
Anick Losier, Canada Post spokeswoman acknowledged mail will take longer to truck to and from Vancouver, but "it's not going to add any additional time," given the time savings incurred by sorting mail mechanically.
"It just costs less and allows us to take our people and maximize efficiencies elsewhere."
Barney said small communities especially will notice it. "For Pender Island, it will go on four ferries, not two, so I can't see how they're going to maintain their (two-day delivery) service in these small communities.
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