Scotiabank departure will be a sharp loss, La Scie mayor says

After next September, the nearest bank will be a 45-minute drive away.

Following in the footsteps of Roddickton

Kim Morey, mayor of La Scie, says their bank is vital to the people in the community. (Submitted by Kim Morey)

Another small town in Newfoundland will be without a bank next year, as Scotiabank — citing a drop in customer traffic — is packing up and leaving La Scie by next September.

 "It's devastating that they made this announcement," Mayor Kim Morey told CBC Radio's Central Morning Show

"The bank is vital to the people in the community."

La Scie is a town on Newfoundland's Baie Verte Peninsula. (Google Maps)

Scotiabank's branch in La Scie, which had a population of 872 in the last census, employs three people and is open three days a week.

The closure next fall — the latest in a series of bricks-and-mortar bank closures in rural communities — will mean that getting to the nearest bank will mean a 45-minute drive. 

Last month, Scotiabank announced it will pull out of the Northern Peninsula community of Roddickton in October 2019. The nearest bank there will be 100 km away. 

While the popularity of online banking has soared, Morey said many people still need in-person banking services. 

"There's a lot of seniors in the community and in the surrounding areas," she said.

"There's a lot of fishermen in the area ... those people depend on the bank here for their cheques to be cashed. The same thing with the seniors. They can't travel two hours, to go and come, to go to a bank." 

Town businesses may suffer

Morey said she is worried there will be a ripple effect, as consumers drive away to do their banking — and then spend their money out of town. 

"Once you go there, to go to a bank, you're going to go to a restaurant to eat, you're going to gas up, you're going to run to the grocery store to pick up a few things," she said.

"That's taking all money from our community and putting it elsewhere."

Morey is checking with other banks to see if a replacement can be found. 

"We're after meeting with another financial institution already ... and they came here for a meeting with some town residents the week before last," she said. 

"The meeting went really positive with us. What they had to offer I think would suit our community better."

The town of La Scie will hold a public meeting with the as-yet unnamed bank on Oct. 16.

Customer base down

However, in an emailed statement to CBC News, Scotiabank said that there just isn't enough traffic in the area anymore, and that it took into consideration the presence of other branches in the area. 

"Our review includes a full area market analysis and is not limited to one branch, or to rural or urban areas. That review includes such things as proximity of the branch to other Scotiabank branches and customer traffic at branches across the market area," the statement said. 

"After careful consideration of our operations in this community, we have made the difficult decision that we cannot continue to operate the La Scie branch."

As for the staff of the La Scie branch, Scotiabank said nothing is finalized in terms of staffing plans, and all employees have been notified of the closure.

With files from the Central Morning Show

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