New Brunswick

Chipman not 'lying down' over bank closure

The new mayor of Chipman Carson Atkinson wants to get businesses and hundreds of local people to commit to change their bank in order to attract a new bank to the village.

Mayor aims to attract new bank as Scotiabank plans to close in the fall

The Scotiabank branch in Chipman is scheduled to close on October 6. (CBC)

The new mayor of Chipman Carson Atkinson wants to get businesses and hundreds of local people to commit to change their financial institution in order to attract a new bank to the village.

In February, Scotiabank said it will be closing its Chipman branch in October. After that, residents will have to go to Minto, which is 20 minutes away, to do their banking.

"We hope to have at least 800 names of people willing to establish an account in another banking institution," said Carson.

"And also to perhaps approach some of the local employers, who have a lot of financing through local equipment."

Carson and his new council have formed a search committee aimed at attracting a new bank to the village. He says it includes local business owners and a representative from the J.D. Irving sawmill in Chipman.

Before a public meeting on June 29, they want at least 800 commitments to change banks to whichever institution may come to the village.

"It's a safety issue and it's a very practical everyday kind of issue," said Carson. He says business owners will have to travel further to transfer daily cash deposits.

"Whether it's Service New Brunswick, the Post Office, seniors, or any other group of businesses."

Carson says the committee will also consider asking an institution to install a full-service bank machine.

Seniors affected

Peggy Chase is the coordinator of Chipman Outreach, an organization that helps seniors remain in their homes.

Chase says the departure of the bank will have a huge impact on older residents, who don't have access to internet banking.

"A lot of people don't have vehicles. They'll have to start paying for mileage to go elsewhere," said Chase.

"If they're going through us, they're awarded so many hours within the home. So then those hours are starting to be taken away from the personal care they need."

Councillor and business owner Dan Frenette says the majority of his customers are seniors, and they tend to use cash or cheques more than younger customers.

"As a business owner, if you can't clear the cheque the same day, you either have to have a lot of faith in your customer, or you're going to go through a lot of expense trying to get that cheque into the bank to make sure that it clears," said Frenette.

"It's an extra expense having to travel. Paying an employee an hour a day to do your daily deposits."

Branch consolidation

In February, Heather Armstrong, Scotiabank's director of Canadian banking communications, said in an email, the decision was made to consolidate the branch in Chipman with the branch in Minto on Oct. 6.

Another branch in Fredericton, the Smythe Street and Dundonald Street branch will be consolidated with the King's Place branch on Sept. 9.

"We did not make these decisions lightly. While in each case, this process will involve closing one branch, our steadfast commitment to providing our customers with the highest-quality advice and service remains unchanged," Armstrong said.

The public meeting in Chipman takes place on June 29, at 7 p.m., at the Chipman Legion.