01/22/2014 09:20 EST | Updated 03/24/2014 05:59 EDT

Supermail box switchover concerns Surrey residents

People upset over Canada Post's decision to end door-to-door mail delivery in favour of community mailbox delivery voiced their concerns at a forum Tuesday night in Surrey, B.C.

Canada Post announced it was phasing out urban home delivery of regular mail in December in an effort to reduce $1 billion in financial losses expected by 2020. 

Many of the five million Canadian residents who currently receive door-to-door delivery have expressed concern over the change — particular in relation to accessibility and mail security. Tuesday's forum, which was organized by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, was an opportunity for people to have those concerns heard. 

"One of my main concerns is the security of the postal boxes and there's going to be huge ugly boxes on people's property," said Surrey resident Heather Laidlaw.

Documents received by CBC News through a Freedom of Information Act request reveal there were nearly 5,000 incidents of community mailbox tampering in B.C. between 2008 and 2013.

RCMP throughout the province have issued public warnings advising people to pick up their mail promptly and to report any suspicious behaviour, following community mailbox thefts in their communities.

The City of Vancouver has initiated a study that will examine the impacts of losing urban mail delivery on residents, and local politicians speaking out against Canada Post's decision.

"I am concerned about our seniors. I am concerned about those with disabilities. But I am also concerned that we are going to be the only country in the G8 who are not going to have any form of door-to-door delivery of their mail and I don't understand still why we are doing this," says NDP opposition critic for employment and social development Jinny Sims, who attended Tuesday's meeting.

The Union of Postal Workers is hoping these concerns will be loud enough for the postal service to reinstate door-to-door delivery.

"I think we lose part of our whole institution, what it is to be Canadian," says union worker Coleen Jones.

"We are trying to work and we are trying to put forward some really viable solutions on how we can keep Canada Post profitable."

No one from Canada Post attended Tuesday's meeting. 

The phasing out of door-to-door mail delivery is expected to be completed by 2019.