01/28/2015 10:03 EST | Updated 03/30/2015 05:59 EDT

Canada Post cuts hit Abbotsford and Chilliwack this fall

Starting this fall, residents in Abbotsford and Chilliwack will no longer have mail delivered to their doors and will instead have to pick up mail from community mailboxes. The Fraser Valley cities will be among the first B.C. communities to lose door to door service.

Staff at the Chilliwack mail depot were notified of the change last week.

“Over the next several weeks and months, we will be able to determine in greater detail the impact on employees in your location,” said an internal memo.

More than 12,000 households in Chilliwack and at least another 15,000 in Abbotsford will be affected.

“They said that we’d be losing 40 to 45 percent of our workforce in the letter carrier delivery system by putting them into community mailboxes,” said Canadian Union of Postal Workers Local 741 President Peter Butcher.

“We have 23 routes altogether. With a 45 percent [reduction in staff] we’ll be looking at maybe 12 routes.”

Butcher is also worried about mail theft at community mailboxes, which have become targets for thieves. Canada Post is using more secure boxes, but Butcher doesn't believe that will make much of a difference.

“Mail theft is still a huge issue,” Butcher said. “We’re still getting break-ins and they’re not getting fixed. We had one in December and it’s still not fixed.”

Door-to-door service will also be cut this fall in Mission, Ladner and a handful of communities on Vancouver Island, as part of a cost-cutting plan to phase out home delivery across the country over the next five years. Rural service will not be affected.