After days of being unable to pry open their ice-encrusted community mailboxes in St. John’s, Helen Escott and her neighbours started getting creative.
First, people started packing de-icing liquid for their daily trip to the boxes. Then, when the ice still wouldn’t melt, they began using lighters and even raiding their kitchens to find something — anything — that would force the tiny metal doors open and liberate the letters and packages inside.
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“My neighbour, who’s a chef, goes with his flambé thing and tries to warm it up,” Escott said from her Newfoundland and Labrador home on Tuesday.
“Our neighbourhood will all be at the mailbox. At 5 o’clock or 5:30, you’ll see people out there. It reminds me of high school when everybody used to go out for a smoke. Everybody’s standing out there going ‘can I use your lighter?’ … It gets to the point where you just want to take a hammer to it.”
(Canada Post is actively discouraging people from trying to break into the boxes using fire, chemicals or any kind of hammer.)
There has been no shortage of issues with the new community mailboxes installed across Canada last fall under the previous government. They’ve been called too small, too easy to vandalize and just too difficult to access, but this latest problem — freezing locks and doors — is perhaps causing more headaches for Canada Post than any of the others.
Reports of people being unable to turn their keys — or unable pull the keys back out again and breaking them off in the locks — began circulating in November and have increased since.
Residents of Charlottetown were told that the new boxes had a different lock design that is more susceptible to freezing, and that a rapid rise, then drop, in temperature had sealed some of them shut. People in Montreal were told to sit tight and Canada Post would show up to thaw the boxes. Folks in Ottawa have been calling Canada Post’s 1-800 help line by the dozens asking for assistance.
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“It seems to be a common problem,” Escott noted, chuckling. “Newfoundland has different temperatures than they do in Vancouver, where they have palm trees. But in Newfoundland, where we just had two feet of snow last night and where it’s -1 C on a regular basis and could go down to -15 C, these boxes just don’t work.”
Canada Post confirmed to Global News this week that it has received “a few hundred calls” in the National Capital Region about frozen boxes, in addition to the hundreds of others coming in from across the country. People unable to get through have taken to 老域名怎么购买 to vent their frustrations.
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“The unseasonably warm rainy weather immediately followed by a flash freeze and harsh winter conditions in various areas of the country has impacted many locks, including community mailboxes,” explained Canada Post spokesperson Mouktar Abdillahi.
“Our teams are out there working on de-icing the locks in both new and older models. We appreciate everyone’s patience as we work to resolve this as quickly as possible.”
Meanwhile, Escott — who changed over from door-to-door delivery to a community box last October — finally gained access to her mail late last week after two days of freezing temperatures. She said she has no problem with walking to get her letters and parcels, but there has to be a permanent fix to the freezing issue, or she and her neighbours will be going through the same thing next year.
Canada Post could give mail carriers the tools to immediately de-ice frozen mailboxes when they spot them, she suggested, or at least give them a means of reporting the issue to someone who can get there to fix it. Another option might be a glass shelter like you see over bus stops.
“At least you’d protect them. Here we use a lot of salt on the roads because of the ice. And when drivers go by, it splashes the ice up on the mailbox, which causes them to be encased in ice, too.”
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