Parcel Crisis in GTA Highrise Communities. What Crisis?

Parcel Crisis in GTA Highrise Communities.

Parcel Overload – What to Do. Is it Here to Stay?

By Alex Zhvanetskiy, Vice President of Samsonshield Inc.

Recently Riskboss conducted an in-depth Staffing Allocation Impact Study at a very large condominium complex in downtown Toronto. The analysis was requested by the property manager, who took notice of what appeared to be an overwhelming increase in parcels due largely to the COVID19 pandemic. The goal was to determine the need for more personnel to deal with the higher volumes, or other methods of dealing with this issue. The analysis revealed a whopping increase to almost 50,000 parcels being managed byfront desk security staff (annualized).

Highrise parcel issues are an increasing concern for property managers and Boards alike

The year 2020 marked a very special time in the history of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) in that it coincided with the GTA taking over all other cities in the world for having the highest volume of condominiums, not per capita …. by volume. This backs on to the recent surge of residential high-rise developments in the GTA.

Coupled with these staggering facts, a 2019 report from Ryerson University’s Centre for Urban Research highlighted that Toronto and the surrounding region (GTA) has been designated as the fastest growing metropolitan population in North America, even surpassing the United States title holder, Dallas-Fort-Worth-Arlington.

Parcel deliveries in high-rise communities have been on the rise for several years due to the growing trend of online shopping. Since the COVID19 State of Emergency, this trend has increased rapidly far past capacity levels in most high-rise communities. Analysts have predicted that this trend will continue after COVID19 as residents become more familiar and comfortable with online shopping.

The pandemic has changed behaviours worldwide on how consumers shop.

E-commerce is growing beyond the capacity of high-rise communities to keep up. Culture changes driven by Millennials are driving this market. There are currently 7.3 Millennials in Canada making up 37% of the workforce. Millennials are the largest age group since the Baby Boomers.

It is not just an issue of capacity of on-site personnel to handle the volumes of parcels, but also the capacity of temporary storage to hold items pending distribution.

Most high-rise communities were never built for this. Capacity (performance and storage) is the single largest problem facing high-rise communities throughout the world. The cost-benefit analysis of using physical resources to administrate and manage parcel deliveries and distribution is simple math. Under any metric, physical assets are not a good use of resources when compared to more efficient processes and technology. Process is the cheapest method to control the volume of parcels. Parcel management systems can assist greatly to reduce the human burden in parcel management.

According to Patrick Armstrong, CEO of Snaile (a leading Canadian parcel management system) installing carrier-agnostic smart locker systems is the way to go because hiring more staff may not effectively deal with the varying times deliveries occur. Leaving parcels in hallways in communities not serviced by security is a health and safety and Fire Code issue. Canada Post mailboxes only deal with some of the burden, Armstrong says, as too many courier companies will not use this service. The inevitable and frustrating Failed Delivery Notice Card never sits well with the expectations of residents. Armstrong has experienced the increased flexibly and amenity provided by smart locker systems that also takes the burden and liability off of condominium corporations and high-rise building owners.

Over the past eleven-year history of Riskboss, senior analysts maintain that parcel management is an easy fix to this growing problem by using the right mix of both process and technology.

Here are some of the features Riskboss routinely recommends in most high-rise communities that often require addressing:
  • Community expectations have to meet capacity to perform
  • Parcel management systems like smart agnostic locker systems should be installed versus hiring more staff for parcel overloads
  • Use only locker systems that have robust analytics and are accepted by all couriers
  • Size and weight limitations should be clearly regulated for parcel acceptance
  • Primary (for smaller items) and secondary (for larger items) storage facilities can be created in sites with limited storage
  • Perishable food deliveries should be limited to times when residents are home for acceptance of deliveries to reduce liability
  • In condominiums, Rules should be established to govern parcel management systems
  • Robust communication in all high-rise communities is a critical success factor for the success of such a program

As all generations are increasingly moving to e-commerce versus brick-and-mortar shopping solutions, communities should be prepared to retool operations to include both process and technology. By doing this, security can get back to doing what they do best by protecting persons and property. It’s a win-win solution for communities.