Canada Post charging new houses $200

Large community mailboxes are common in neighbourhoods like the one pictured here in Dorchester,...

Large community mailboxes are common in neighbourhoods like the one pictured here in Dorchester, Ont. MIKE HENSEN/The London Free Press/QMI AGENCY

KELLY PEDRO, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:47 PM ET

LONDON, Ont. -- You'll pay more for a new home in Canada next year for -- wait for it -- snail mail.

Canada Post will start charging homebuilders a one-time $200 for every new home built Jan. 1 to cover the cost of installing community mail boxes and arranging delivery to them as traditional mail volume falls.

The fee -- which homebuilders pass on to buyers -- is simply the cost of doing business, the Crown corporation said. It argues the charge is no different than setup fees charged by utilities or cable companies.

But a watchdog group has slapped a "return to sender" on that explanation, calling the fee a tax grab from Canadians and "gouging" of homebuilders.

"There's no question, it's a tax grab," said Gregory Thomas, federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

"For $200 per household -- (and) these boxes have 40 addresses -- Canada Post is asking for $8,000 to install a 500-pound hunk of metal and it's not a user fee.

"That fee is completely disproportionate to the service that's being performed, which is taking one of their prefabricated boxes and installing it in a subdivision... There are better ways for Canada Post to break even than gouging homebuilders and charging $8,000 to install a mailbox."

The fee represents only partial cost recovery, Canada Post spokesperson Jon Hamilton said.

Not impressed? Neither is the London Home Builders' Association, which is fighting the charge.

"New home buyers are already receiving a reduced service, so to add a cost to a reduced service just doesn't seem right," association president Toby Stolee said.

Community mailboxes were introduced a generation ago as a cost-savings measure, rather than the door-to-door delivery older neighbourhoods still get.

"It's not equitable or fair," Stolee said.

The local association is encouraging homebuilders to tell their MPs they're unhappy about the charge.

Stolee said the fee won't be added to apartment or condominium buildings because Canada Post isn't paying to build those mailboxes.

kelly.pedro@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/KellyatLFPress


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