It was after her husband of 62 years passed away — a Second World War veteran who died on Remembrance Day — that a Gatensbury Road resident realized something as amiss with her mail.
She hadn't seen any for a while, including the condolence cards that friends and family mentioned they'd sent.
But the woman's daughter, who asked that her mother's name not be used for security reasons, said it was more than a week and several phone calls to Canada Post before a neighbour told her that mail delivery on the steep, winding hill had been stopped.
"With my dad passing… we're expecting all these time-sensitive materials coming in… We're waiting for all these forms and cards," Jeri Weir told The Tri-City News. "They said we had to go to the post office on Industrial Avenue in PoCo to pick it up, but that's a long way from our house as well, and my mom is not driving anymore."
It took other Gatensbury residents about two weeks to learn what had happened to their mail as well. They discovered Canada Post had stopped delivering the mail because the route was deemed "too dangerous."
Lori Holdenried, who has lobbied Port Moody council in the past to have sidewalks installed on Gatensbury, said it's not the most ideal street to walk but there have been no prior interruptions to mail service since the homes were built in the late 1950s.
"We've had no notice at all, at no point were we told," she said.
And while it's inconvenient to go to PoCo to collect her mail — the PoMo post office at Mary and Clarke streets closed last month — Holdenried said she's more concerned about Weir's mother.
"She's trying to get some sense of stability and what her life is going to be like now. She's dealing with wills, doctors, lawyers, banks — this is the last thing she needs. She needs comfort, understanding and consistency."
Another neighbour, Rich Sobel, is also frustrated at the lack of advance notice from Canada Post.
"We called Canada Post, we emailed them, we filled out online tickets about the problem and no one was even able to tell us about the decision," he wrote in an email to The Tri-City News. "They all knew nothing. It wasn't until one of our residents went down to the post office to see what the problem might be that they told him of this decision."
In speaking to postal staff at the PoCo office, Weir said she was told the decision was a "health and safety issue" because of the lack of sidewalk.
"I told him there's never been a sidewalk," Weir said. "I understand the road may be busier than it was but, up until a couple weeks ago, it wasn't a problem. I'm sympathetic but how they handled it is wrong."
On Thursday, Canada Post included a letter in Gatensbury residents' mail — which would be hand-delivered that day "as a courtesy" — stating safety concerns raised by the area's carrier had prompted the decision to temporarily suspend mail delivery and that, as an employer, it was obligated to ensure workplace safety and investigate the concerns.
The letter does not say how long the investigation will take place, only that residents must pick up their mail at the PoCo location on weekdays from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. until further notice.
In answer to several questions from The Tri-City News regarding the specific safety concerns on Gatensbury and why they were being raised now, more than 60 years after delivery started on the street, a Canada Post representative stated the Crown corporation has a "legal responsibility to investigate… to ensure workplace safety to our delivery personnel."
As for its failure to notify residents of the change in their mail service, Anick Losier said, "We should have alerted residents earlier and we apologize for this oversight," adding anyone who is unable to collect their mail in PoCo is asked to contact Canada Post to make alternate arrangements.
Coquitlam's manager of transportation, Dan Mooney, said because the road runs through the Coquitlam/Port Moody border any sidewalk additions would need to be done in partnership. He noted that part of Gatensbury has a sidewalk that runs about 650 metres from Como Lake Avenue to Bartlett Street, but not along the 175 metres from Bartlett to the PoMo boundary, where there are about six homes. The following 500 metres through Port Moody down to Nobel Court also has no sidewalk.
Mooney said the city was also not aware of any prior concerns being expressed by Canada Post at this location, or what might have triggered this issue to come to a focus at this time.
"To the best of our knowledge, there has not been any road or traffic pattern changes that have changed the situation from what it has been historically."