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'Safety concerns' prompt Canada Post to suspend service to Vancouver neighbourhood

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Mail delivery on two blocks of East Hastings Street in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside has been suspended over “health and safety” concerns raised by Canada Post employees, the corporation confirmed.

CTV News has learned letter carriers complained about seeing drug use, and being verbally assaulted.

“It is our responsibility to ensure that our employees, who visit hundreds of addresses every day, can deliver mail and parcels safely,” wrote Canada Post spokesperson Valérie Chartrand in an email.

Affected residents and businesses on East Hastings between Carrall and Main streets must now pick-up their mail 14 blocks away at the facility on Woodland Drive. It is not open on weekends, and residents were told it closes at 2 p.m.

“I’m waiting on credit cards. I’m waiting on some cheques,” said resident Ali Al Ibrahim, who worries he will have to take a day off to get his mail. “Most people work Monday to Friday, normal hours, and this is just like in the middle of the day, and you can never make it.”

Canada Post said that the suspension was temporary, but didn’t indicate when door-to-door delivery service will resume.

“When there is a situation at a delivery location that is unsafe for our employees, we work with the customer or property management to resolve the issue and resume regular service as soon as possible,” Chartrand continued. 

East Hastings resident Bianca Barr said she understands that conditions in the neighbourhood make some people uneasy.

“It’s extremely sad, and before I moved here I was also like ‘Can I handle living in this neighbourhood?’” she explained. “It’s years and years of I don’t know, the city doesn’t know what to do either.

Although she likes where she lives now, she confesses it did take time for her to get comfortable.

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart insisted the city is working with Canada Post to find a solution.

“Whether it’s expanding complex care housing for those facing mental health challenges, moving away from sub-standard private SROs, or pushing senior governments to take action on the overdose crisis, we are working night and day to help vulnerable neighbours live full and supported lives, and in turn promote safer and stronger communities for all,” wrote Stewart.

Canada Post apologized for the inconvenience, but insisted it is working on a “long-term solution.”

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