Community Articles
Go to Site Index See "Community Articles" main page
General News · 5th April 2014
Ester Strijbos
Announcement to all members of Coastal Community Credit Union, April 3, 2014

Dear Members,
I would like to let you know that Coastal Community Credit Union has made the difficult decision to close branches and ATMs in Alert Bay, Sointula and Cortes Island, effective July 5, 2014. Effective that day, we will also be reducing the hours of operation of our Quadra Island branch.

These were very difficult decisions because of the impact to our members, employees and communities. While these were difficult decisions, I am confident the actions we’re taking are the right ones and in the best long-term interest of our 110,000 members and clients, and our organization as a whole.

The decision to make these changes was based on comprehensive reviews and assessments of our services in all our branches and regions. Despite considerable efforts in the last several years, the branches being closed have not been financially viable. In the interests of all our members, we determined that the level of subsidization being provided is not justifiable over the long term.

Member accounts at Alert Bay, Sointula and Cortes Island will be automatically transferred to a nearby location within their geographic region or to any of our 21 other branch locations of their choosing. We will also continue to provide service to our members in these communities through online, mobile and telephone banking, 24-hour MemberCards, in addition to mobile specialist services.

Coastal Community employees are committed to helping members through this transition and will work hard to make it as smooth as possible. We value our members’ business and will make every effort to provide our affected members with the service they need.

Serving island communities for over 60 years, we remain financially strong, and even after these changes we will continue to be the largest financial institution based on Vancouver Island, with more full-service branches from Port Hardy to Duncan than any other financial institution.

If you require further information, please visit your branch or call 1.888.741.1010.

Sincerely,
Adrian Legin
President and CEO
Coastal Community Credit Union
Closure
Comment by Rob on 10th April 2014
What a callous disregard for Cortes Islanders and the other rural communities in which you are withdrawing your services. The extreme inconvenience this puts mine and other businesses in makes me want to withdraw my account completely or at least send you the bills for time lost and ferry costs or courier services I now face in order to deposit client pay cheques on time for bill payments etc. At least leave us an ATM. Better still, reconsider this decision and while your at it, check the comments coming in on
Cortes Island.com Tideline.

"Together we'd like to keep our CU thanks"

Rob
I will forward your comments
Comment by Noba Anderson on 8th April 2014
I have a meeting with the CEO and Board chair from the Credit Union and I will take your comments with me. Please send any other comments you would like me to forward directly to me at director,,,cortesisland.com
Thanks and keep it coming.
Please see the letter to the CCCU board and CEO that I wrote and posted today on line.
Thanks, Noba
Shareholders' revolt?
Comment by oliverk on 6th April 2014
FYI: Here is an e-mail I sent off to Claire Trevena and Noba A, urging them to get involved in this matter.

best,

O.

Claire/Noba:

As a shareholder of the CCCU (Cortes Island Branch), I would like to add my voice to what must by now be a chorus of denunciation regarding the recently announced branch closures.

These credit union branches along with the financial services they provide are essential pieces of infrastructure in our communities and to take them away without shareholder and community consultation is indicative of a deep disconnect between the credit union management and their social mandate.

The planned removal of the ATM machines poses a particular hardship as many of us use these on a day-to-day basis to pay bills, deposit cheques etc and with the recent unsustainable increase in the cost of ferry travel, doing these essential things off-island has become even less of an option.

Unless these draconian decisions are reversed, I will be closing my accounts with CCCU and suggest others affected by these branch closures do the same. With any luck, this will turn into a full-on shareholders revolt and management will reconsider their ill-advised initiative.

I am urging Regional Director Anderson and MLA Claire Trevena to make prompt representations to the CCCU management to heighten their awareness of the damage they are proposing to cause to the quality of life and the smooth transaction of business in our rural communities and to offer a pointed reminder of our expectation of meaningful consultation and an understanding of the serious social commitment that CCCU entered into upon taking over the old Quadra Credit Union.

Sincerely,


Oliver Kellhammer
(Whaletown BC)
No consultation
Comment by bob katzko on 6th April 2014
Perhaps with a little consultation I could have moved a couple of my mortgages over to the Credit Union. I never moved them simply because it was easier to leave them where they were. All my savings are at the Credit Union. What level of deposits (or profits) would be needed to keep the bank viable? I would certainly have moved all my banking to this branch had I known it was in trouble. I'm shocked that I'm a 'member' of this Credit Union and wasn't consulted about this decision.
Credit Unions no longer as intended
Comment by Dianne Bersea on 5th April 2014
Closure of the CU on Cortes is sad and disappointing news. I know it will create some big challenges for local businesses. But in some ways I'm not surprised that the CU would put profit before member viability and access. When we were selling our house, several situations transpired in our relationship with the CU that demonstrated a corporate mind-set that DID NOT put the customer member first by any means. I took my concerns up the ladder right to the board of directors at Head Office in Nanaimo. At all levels I had difficulty reaching a decision-maker, and at each level I was merely patted on the head. At no point did any senior CU staff indicate that the CU had any interest or concern for how matters had been handled. I was so angry after that experience that I resolved never to use a Credit Union again. I now use a major bank where fees are less, delivered with excellent service. Best wishes for finding a good post-CU financial services solution on Cortes!


what Mike said
Comment by De on 5th April 2014
I agree with Mike that the timing of this announcement, and of the closure, is so unfortunate as to seem almost malicious. A disruption of this magnitude for island businesses should have been announced at least a year in advance, and the cutoff date itself should have been during the off-season, so that there was time to prepare and test whatever workarounds we will need to adopt.

We must always bear in mind the good old adage, "Never attribute to malice what can be explained by simple incompetence," but still, this leaves a very sour taste... and I confess that I will be considering whether to take my own modest financial affairs elsewhere. I would switch immediately to a smaller CU like the old Quadra Island CU, if it still existed. Seriously, what would Discovery Islanders need to do to revive the local institution which, as I understand it, served quite well for over 30 years?
Unreal!
Comment by Delores Broten on 5th April 2014
I can't believe they would close the credit union, especially after spending so much on the new building. Wonder why it didn't make a profit hey?

Just goes to show that it should never have been sold (or amalgamated or whatever they call it) in the first place.

Keep local business local - it's the only way to keep it. Now MORE expensive ferry traffic to do banking. Just great!
Summer Madness
Comment by Mike Moore on 4th April 2014
Closing July 5th? Could you pick a more inconvenient time? With the summer crowds upon us and the multitude of island tourism businesses working hard to make their annual income in just a few short weeks (although it takes all year to prepare for) you want us to do what with our flow of cash and cheques? We don't have time for trips off island to do banking. And if we do have to leave the island for banking, you can bet your corporate dollars that we won't be stopping on Quadra to do business with CCCU anymore.

Yes I'm Mad!

I always thought that big new building on Cortes was more suited to be a pub. Might as well leave the ATM there, it'll at least make money.

online ranting
Comment by shirley on 4th April 2014
I hope the people commenting are also calling the number provided at the end of the announcement and making these complaints to the credit union, it's unlikely anyone other than the local employees will read this.
what's the difference...
Comment by De on 4th April 2014
... between a credit union and a bank?

I thought the difference - the reason I have always tried to give all my financial business to a credit union - was that a credit union has wider priorities than simple profit maximisation. I thought that a credit union, like a fishermen's co-op, averaged its costs over multiple branches so that rural communities, or non-wealthy urban communities, received reputable banking and lending services despite not being hot profit centres. I thought that the more affluent members/clients of a credit union gladly assented to relinquishing a bit of margin in exchange for supporting the larger community - I certainly did. I thought that there was a social enterprise aspect to a credit union, so that "is this branch returning fat dividends" was not the only question to be considered when deciding where and how to site services.

So I'm really disappointed to see CCCU, evidently successful, doing well - as Adrian Legin writes, the largest Vancouver Island based financial institution - starting to play the "Survivor" game with its outlying branches. If the CU is doing that well, do they really have to start axing branches that aren't returning maximal profits? Don't they have a mission of community service in addition to their profit-seeking mission? How big a loss are they taking on our branch? No numbers are mentioned in the announcement.

It appears that we gave up our truly local, small-scale, service-oriented CU for a promise of better service and more convenience from the "big boys" - and now the big boys have decided we're not worth their time any more. Is it perhaps time to revive a local CU, on a more modest scale appropriate to our needs?
Member feedback
Comment by Ron Kroeker on 4th April 2014
Mr. Legin and Board Members,
When we moved to Cortes Island ten years ago, I made a point of depositing some of my savings in the Credit Union. It was not and is not a huge amount of money but the relatively secure term deposit RRSP funds likely allowed the credit union to back a mortgage or two. We rented a safe deposit box which generated some fees and also kept a modest saving account. I did this for one reason; to support my local community. Perhaps once it changed to Coastal Community Credit Union (CCCU), the “Community” part doesn’t include small communities like Cortes Island anymore.
I’m well aware of the financial realities of today’s business world. I’ve worked for companies who have found it necessary to rationalize or consolidate their operations and infrastructure. I was raised on the Canadian prairies and have witnessed many small towns lose important services like banking. But at least you could tell when a bank was going to be shut down. The exterior went first, starting with a bit of peeling paint. Then they stopped spending any money on the inside of the building. Staff levels dropped and the manager started looking after the branch in the next small town down the road or maybe two other branches.
I guess credit unions really are different from banks. You put up a fancy expensive new building (built by off island contractors if I recall correctly) with a bunch of private offices that never get used and then close it down. The old trailer at the SCCA site worked just fine for me thanks. Many of the credit union members on Cortes Island lack secure access to the internet, meaning your first option of alternative service, online banking, is useless to them.
Perhaps CCCU did not realize the irony of including the tag line at the top of this announcement: “Together, let’s do GREAT THINGS”. Perhaps we could consider a different one for Cortes Island: “Together, let’s do a few small things that make sense”. Things like finding an alternate location for the ATM so members can continue to make deposits and withdraw funds locally. Things like looking for alternative service delivery models that don’t require a fancy office that opens for limited hours three days of the week.

Ron Kroeker
Cortes Island
Shocking News!
Comment by David Shipway on 4th April 2014
This sudden announcement, made without any consultation with members and local businesses, is an even worse central management decision than the gigantic and expensive new building only a few years ago.
Re, closure
Comment by Bill Dougan on 4th April 2014
I feel those of us who use the Credit Union this is quite a slap in the face. You acted all nice when you wanted to us to vote for you re merger offer when we were the Quadra Credit Union. Now it seems you have taken from us what you wanted, and I would read that as what is profitable for you and now you are prepared to throw out the rest.
And what about the employees? I guess they are also disposable now.?
I always thought Credit Unions were different. I guess I was a victim of my naïveté again.
In the end, you re just another bank, no more or no less.
closure of Cortes credit union
Comment by Laurel Bohart on 3rd April 2014
Dear Sir,
Although I understand your credit union's need for financial stability I consider your move to be highly unfair to the people of Cortes who depend upon a local credit union or bank for their financial services, especially the withdrawal of cash from the credit union's ATM. This will jeapordize a great many small Cortes businesses who depended on that outlet for their needs, not to mention for the cashing of cheques and other services. With the ferry fares rising along with the local island cost of living this new blow might well shut the island down.
I demand you reconsider!
Sincerely
Laurel Bohart