East Coast Credit Union and members meet to discuss future
PORT HAWKESBURY — An East Coast Credit Union meeting is being seen as a positive step toward preventing branch closures.
Richmond County Coun. Malcolm Beaton, who represents areas from D’Escousse to Rocky Bay, said an afternoon session in Port Hawkesbury on Sunday allowed both the company and its members to express concerns over the economic challenges fac- ing three of the company’s 13 branches.
Citing financial concerns, the banking co-operative announced in November it would close branches in North East Margaree in Margaree Centre, North Isle Madame in D’Escousse, and Mulgrave.
The closures and the loss of seven full-time jobs was expected to take place at the end of February, however, the credit union’s board of directors delayed the decision following a public outcry from members and com- munity representatives.
“I think the boards themselves realize that there wasn’t enough consultation before they came up with that original decision,” said Beaton. “Now that there’s been a reprieve put on by these three branches, the membership has to realize if these three branches are to survive, as well as all the branches at East Coast, what they have to do is make sure they are supporting their local branch.”
East Coast Credit Union president and chief executive officer Doug Hastings said he was disap- pointed that only about 125 people attended the meeting. He said although the company is in good shape financially, deposits are growing faster than loans, which has impacted the company’s return profits. He admits communication with members in dealing with the closures wasn’t the best.
“ We need more business to sustain the operation,” said Hastings. “Our loans aren’t growing like they used to and the interest rate is low, and in that environment our revenue strain tightens up a bit.”
The Cape Breton Regional Hospital Foundation was presented with $66,000 in donations from contributing Cape Breton Building Trades Council union locals and unionized contractors during MacDonald’s visit to the hospital.
This is in addition to the $725,000 contribution made by the federal government on Friday to help buy state-of-the-art diagnostic and surgical equipment for the cancer centre. Credit union branches in Cape Breton also contributed $250,000 earlier this month.
The federal government had already announced its intention to spend $5 million on the cancer centre expansion project through its health-care wait times guarantee agreement with the province.