British Columbia

B.C. community gets credit union after 6 months with no bank

Residents in Fraser Lake, B.C., have been without a brick-and-mortar financial institution since the local CIBC closed in September.

CIBC pulled out of Fraser Lake, B.C., in September

The Village of Fraser Lake has about 1,000 residents and the local mayor worried the community would lose some of them when the only bank in town closed six months ago. (Google Maps)

"We were really worried."

That's how Sarrah Storey, mayor of Fraser Lake, felt when she learned in November 2018 that residents in the central B.C. village would be losing their only brick-and-mortar bank.

The CIBC Fraser Lake Banking Centre then closed its doors for the last time in September 2019 and for six months, community residents have been forced to drive either 40 minutes east to Vanderhoof or two hours east to Prince George to do their banking.

In some cases, business owners have had to make the drive regularly just to get change for their cash registers, Storey said. 

But now those commutes for coins can come to an end.

Integris Credit Union, a financial cooperative located in north central B.C., opened a new branch in Fraser Lake on Wednesday. 

Storey said when CIBC announced it was pulling out, she was worried the community would start losing residents. The municipality scrambled to get another institution into town and Integris was their first call.

A 'community-minded' institution

Storey said it's already proving to be a great fit.

She said a credit union "thinks differently" and is more "community-minded" than the big banks and Integris has already proven so by donating $10,000 to a local non-profit so the organization could purchase new tables and chairs.

And in the spirit of small-town comradery, the non-profit loaned the tables and chairs back to Integris for Wednesday's grand opening.

Storey said Integris is also benefiting by receiving a "hefty amount of new clients" and setting up in a community she said is "up and coming" with the Coastal GasLink pipeline project bringing jobs and economic opportunities to the region.

With files from Daybreak North

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