Moving away from box numbers in the South Shore

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Believe it or not, online shopping is one of the main reasons the post office is getting rid of box numbers for Canyon Creek and Widewater.
Canada Post reps shared that news with M.D. of Lesser Slave River council on June 28. Civic addresses will replace the box numbers.
A couple of questions were put to council for its decision. One was whether the addresses would stick with the hamlet names, or just go to the generic ‘Lesser Slave River.’ That was easily resolved.
The other question was what the actual boundaries would be for those two hamlets, for postal address purposes. The M.D. will get back to Canada Post with a map showing what it wants to be ‘Widewater’ and what constitutes ‘Canyon Creek.’ In both cases it will include residences south of Hwy. 2. People in Assineau who pick up their mail in Canyon Creek will continue to do that, and their addresses will reflect that.
Clint Carpenter, the main spokesperson for the Canada Post delegation, said any other changes to how the mail is delivered or addressed in the M.D. will be dealt with later. There were lots of questions pertaining to other areas.
Carpenter said there are 339 affected customers in WW and CC, who use P.O. box numbers. This is problematic for a couple of reasons. For one thing, mailing addresses should correspond with the 911 system.
The other big issue, Carpenter said, “is online shopping. A lot of companies won’t mail to a box number.”
A couple of councillors said they don’t favour the move away from box numbers. Some residents don’t either, they said. Can they have both? Nope, said Carpenter.
“Box numbers have no relevance to location,” and location is important. The whole country is moving in that direction, he said.
Residents can, if they choose, rent a box at the Slave Lake post office.
In any case, the actuall mail pick-up system isn’t going to change. People will still pick it up at the community mailbox sites, and have keys assigned according to box numbers. But each box number will correspond to a street address.
Carpenter said he hoped the new system would be in place by October. If it isn’t, it won’t be until next year, because nothing will happen during the Christmas season.
At this point, M.D. CAO Allan Winarski said the M.D. is still working out glitches in the rural address system, and it wouldn’t make sense for Canada Post to switch over from box numbers to civic addresses until they are all fixed.
Where this leaves people in other areas of the M.D. who would like their mailing address to be their street address is exactly where they have been: trying to find ways around corporate and government reluctance to deal with box numbers for mailing addresses. This came up as an issue at the last meeting of the Marten Beach Cottagers’ Society. Residents there have Slave Lake box numbers and reported great frustration in trying to register online for various services and programs.
“Many companies require your street address in order to provide services (for example utility companies),” says Marten Beach resident Caroline Wagenaar. “And if your street address doesn’t have a postal code, they can’t enter you into (their) system and they say things to you like, ‘it’s not possible that you don’t have a postal code.’ Great. And if you try to give them the postal code for your PO box number, their system rejects it. And so, basically, they won’t do business with you.”


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