It wasn’t an easy breakup conversation for many at the CIBC meeting.
Executives from CIBC met with about 50 customers at Victory Hall last Thursday to talk about their options once the branch closes this March.
CIBC announced in mid-September it would be closing the branch in March 2018 citing reasons including an increase in online banking.
Residents at the meeting, including former Keremeos Mayor Walter Despot, were not taking the closure sitting down.
“I feel neglected and actually betrayed, and I just find this unfortunate that an organization your size could not have come up with an option, because options are out there. Things are changing very, very, quickly and options are out there that you did look at but bottomline Toronto doesn’t give a hell about us in Keremeos.”
Despot, who at one time owned the drug store next door, has banked with CIBC for more than five decades and had several business and personal accounts, He decided to move all his accounts to another financial institution.
Wilfrid Mennell said his family has banked with the CIBC since his father moved to the area. He made mention of the impact the closure will have on the agriculture community.
“This is a rural community and there is an agriculture business component to that. There are people who deposit a lot of cash around this community. We need to pay our workers and they need to be able to get to the bank,” he said. “I feel betrayed. You’ve dumped on us is my view. You’ve dumped us.”
Sally Mennell and several other residents asked why an ATM couldn’t be setup somewhere in the community.
Jon Kastikainen, senior manager, stakeholder communications for CIBC said definitively that an ATM would not be put in anywhere in the community. He did not fully explain why not at any point in the meeting, but did say CIBC “didn’t want to put one in and then have to take it away a year or 18 months later.”
He did say CIBC would look into ways to reimburse customers having to use other financial institutions’ bank machines to get out cash but didn’t offer any immediate solutions.
Several residents questioned why their home branch would now move to Osoyoos and not to Penticton. Concerns about finding travel to Osoyoos were raised.
“It’s not our intention to make it more difficult,” he said, adding, “… it doesn’t matter where your account is you can go into any banking centre and receive the same service you do at your home branch.”
One longtime resident noted that 60 years ago CIBC actually setup a bank one day a week in Cawston to service its clients.
“That’s how much they thought of us in Cawston then. We’d go to the Cawston church and deposit our checks on Mondays,” she said.
Kastikainen said those that deal in cash and can’t make the trip to a CIBC banking centre would need to look at their options and come up with the best for them.
“We’re pleased were not the only banking institution in town. We want people to come in and make an appointment with the staff and hear the options they have available to them before we close in March,” he said.
He said that new checks would be made up for those needed them because of the closure at no cost.
Before ending the meeting, Kastikainen thanked the dedicated staff at the CIBC for their hard work.
“The people that work here are hardworking individuals who have had to manage a difficult decision that was made far, far away from them. They’ve done a great job here,”
Several staff members were seen crying during the meeting. Although CIBC has offered jobs to employees at least one staff member has declined because of the additional expense required to travel to work.
There are six employees at the bank.