Nova Scotia

Historic credit union in Reserve Mines to close for good this fall

The credit union in Reserve Mines — the first incorporated in Nova Scotia — has been closed due to COVID-19. Now, its accounts and staff are being moved permanently to Glace Bay starting Nov. 15.

Accounts, staff moving to Glace Bay to improve 'operational efficiency and ... profitability,' manager says

The credit union in Reserve Mines, N.S., has been closed temporarily due to COVID-19. Its permanent closure is slated for Nov. 15, not because of the pandemic but because of the cost of operating it. (George Mortimer/CBC)

The first credit union to incorporate in Nova Scotia is slated for closure this fall.

The Reserve Mines branch has been closed due to COVID-19 and its accounts are being moved permanently to Glace Bay Central Credit Union starting Nov. 15.

The credit union says the move simply makes economic sense and is not related to the pandemic.

Jeff Aucoin, chief of the Reserve Mines Volunteer Fire Department, said the announcement came out of the blue.

"There's certainly a lot of sadness and a lot of disappointment throughout the community," he said. "It came as quite a shock to everybody."

Aucoin does not bank with the credit union personally, but the fire department does. He said the department has supported the credit union for decades and the institution returned the favour, supporting the community.

According to Credit Unions Atlantic Canada, the Filene Credit Union was first to organize in 1932, but the Reserve Mines Credit Union was the first to receive a charter, also in that year. (George Mortimer/CBC)

Now, the department is considering taking its account to a different bank altogether.

Aucoin said the credit union's legacy doesn't seem to matter anymore.

"It was something to be proud of and we lost that today," he said.

According to Credit Unions Atlantic, in 1932 the Filene Credit Union was the first to organize in Nova Scotia, but the Reserve Mines Credit Union was the first to receive a charter, also in 1932.

Aucoin said the loss of the credit union is sad. Recent closures include the community's men's club, legion branch and a church. Lately, there's been talk of losing the school and another church, he said.

"It almost feels like before long we're not going to be Reserve Mines anymore," Aucoin said.

"We're just going to be an extension of Glace Bay, which is unfortunate, because Reserve Mines has a rich history with the credit union being one of the first in Nova Scotia."

The Reserve Mines branch has been threatened with closure before due to the cost of operation. (George Mortimer/CBC)

The Reserve branch has been threatened with closure before.

Glace Bay Central Credit Union general manager Tanya Duffy said it costs too much to keep the Reserve Mines branch open.

"We've been looking at various ways to increase operational efficiency and improve profitability and when we did the research, we could see that members are continuing to use the online options more so than the in-branch [ones]," she said.

"We just felt that this was the best decision moving forward."

Duffy said some members have expressed disappointment and that's understandable.

'Collective needs'

However, she said, many also recognize that the Glace Bay branch is only six kilometres away and the staff from Reserve Mines are being transferred there with no job losses.

Duffy acknowledged the disappointment some feel over the loss of the first recognized credit union in the province, but said the board of directors fully supports the decision to close the Reserve Mines branch.

"The credit union movement was formed to meet the needs of the collective membership and that's what we make every decision on the basis of and we feel this is the right one for the members and for our credit union," she said.

The closure was announced this week on the Glace Bay credit union website with a notice and a letter to members.

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About the Author

Tom Ayers

Reporter/Editor

Tom Ayers has been a reporter and editor for more than 30 years. He has spent the last 16 years covering Cape Breton and Nova Scotia stories. You can reach him at tom.ayers@cbc.ca.

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