The new location of the Westridge mailboxes has once again bubbled up as an issue, after Invermere council received a letter of complaint on the matter at its most recent council meeting.

The emailed letter, received at the Tuesday, February 23rd council meeting, was from Westridge residents Bob and Virginia Walker, and pointed to what the couple terms “the safety issues” associated with the spot to which the bank of mailboxes had been moved a few years ago.

“The problem is that they (the mail boxes) were moved to the worst location possible in the subdivision when safety is taken into consideration. The current location is in the middle of an intersection, on a steep inside curve on the south side of the road,” reads the letter. “Due to the slope of the road, exposure, and grade, ice accumulates on the road surface in front of, above, and below the boxes. Residents driving home cross the road into the oncoming lane and pick up their mail then cross the oncoming lane to either continue up the hill or U-turn across the intersection to continue north.”

The couple had initially sent a letter of complaint to council on the matter in July 2014. At the time, Invermere planner Rory Hromadnik told The Pioneer that the boxes had been moved because Westridge residents near the old location had complained, and now the residents near the new location were complaining. He added that such disputes are common.

“This happens frequently, almost every time a bank of (mail) boxes goes in,” he had said at the time.

Several months later, in November 2014, many residents of Westridge signed a petition saying they liked the new Westridge mailbox location and didn’t want it moved. Westridge resident Rick Fiddis circulated a petition in support of the current spot and collected the signatures of 35 homeowners in the area who favour the new location. He said he went to 36 homes to get the 35 signatures and said that everybody he talked to was supportive of keeping the mailboxes where they are, with one exception,

“It’s not a neighbourhood feud. It’s not personal. We just like our post office boxes where they are,” Fiddis had said at the time. “Our concern is that we talked with the district planner and he said the only other spot he can imagine the boxes being moved to is across the street from the Seniors Hall (in a spot where there already are some mailboxes).”

The Walkers’ most recent letter referenced the petition, saying since it was clear that Westridge residents did not want their mail boxes located outside the subdivision, perhaps a compromise of a new location in the subdivision could be possible.

“Some ideal sites would be on the corner of Westridge Drive and Westridge Way as this is flat terrain easily reached from all parts of Westridge. The other possibility would be at the south end of Westridge Drive where a second set of boxes is currently located,” suggested the Walkers in their letter.

During the February 23rd council meeting, Greg Anderson mentioned he had lived in Westridge for 12 years, and could sympathize with the Walkers’ complaints.

“The location where (the mailboxes) are now is not the best,” said Anderson, asking if district staff could look at the issue.

Invermere mayor Gerry Taft pointed out that location of mailboxes is not a district decision — the district makes recommendations on potential mailbox locations to Canada Post, which owns the mailboxes and has final say on where they go. He then suggested contacting Canada Post and having the organization look into potential new locations.

Council made a motion to do just that and tell the Walkers that council would pursue the matter with Canada Post.


Funding assistance

During the February 23rd meeting council approved a flurry of funding assistance for several local organizations, including $500 for the Columbia Basin Environmental Education Network (CBEEN); $500 for the Killer Rollbots; $1,000 for the Columbia Valley Community Foundation (for the community vital signs study); $2,500 for the Invermere Curling Club; $1,500 for the Kinsmen Club; $1,000 for the Columbia Valley Youth Soccer Association; $500 for the Invermere Special Olympics chapter; $2,000 for Invermere Citizens on Patrol; and $500 for the Toby Creek Nordic Ski Club (for equipment for kids).

In addition, council approved annual fees for services of $22,000 for the Columbia Valley Arts Council; $10,000 for the Windermere District Historical Society; $5,000 for the Columbia Valley Hospice Society; and $5,000 for the Toby Creek Nordic Ski Club.

Several councillors pointed out that all organizations either had their funding levels drop slightly or stay frozen at the same level as last year, and added that this was because the district is now having to start paying some of the costs associated with the planned new multi-use centre.