Sco­tia­bank clo­sure in Ramea will mean a day’s travel for in-per­son ser­vices

Con­sol­i­da­tion with Bur­geo branch sched­uled for Au­gust 2019

The Gulf News (Port aux Basques) - - Front Page - BY ROSALYN ROY WITH FILES FROM STEPHEN ROBERTS Rosalyn.roy@gulfnews.ca Twit­ter: @tyger­lylly

When Sco­tia­bank closes its Ramea branch, res­i­dents and busi­nesses will need to hop a ferry to Bur­geo for any ser­vice that can’t be per­formed on­line.

Krista Stewart, Sco­tia­bank’s man­ager of Cana­dian bank­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions, told The Gulf News the de­ci­sion to close the Ramea branch on Aug. 18, 2019, was due to chang­ing cus­tomer needs and pref­er­ences.

“We rec­og­nize that not all cus­tomers use dig­i­tal and on­line bank­ing, but 80 per­cent of trans­ac­tions in Canada now take place out­side the branch,” she said in an email.

Ramea Mayor Clyde Do­minie con­ceded that a lot of town’s res­i­dents use on­line bank­ing.

“We’re get­ting ser­vice two days a week, on Thurs­days and Fri­days,” Do­minie told The Gulf News. “The most dif­fi­cult part I see is for lo­cal busi­nesses and espe­cially for or­ga­ni­za­tions who pretty well deal on a cash ba­sis with ev­ery­thing that they do. The is­sue of course, is be­ing able to make a cash de­posit.”

Although Ramea has a pop­u­la­tion of less than 500, there are three stores, a hair sa­lon, a cou­ple of tourism out­lets and an­other one slated to open next sum­mer, in ad­di­tion to non-profit groups that fundraise reg­u­larly, like the fire depart­ment.

The town also en­joys a grow­ing tourism in­dus­try, thanks in part to its an­nual Rock Is­land Mu­sic Fes­ti­val. That one week­end rep­re­sents a sig­nif­i­cant amount of cash trans­ac­tions for the town busi­nesses and char­i­ta­ble groups.

“Of course, you’ve got a lot of se­niors in town,” noted Do­minie, who is aware that some still need to go to the lo­cal branch to cash cheques. “They’ll cer­tainly miss it, as well.”

Do­minie also said that three bank em­ploy­ees will be out of work.

Although he is not in­sen­si­tive to the bank’s eco­nomic re­al­i­ties in op­er­at­ing in such an iso­lated com­mu­nity, Do­minie is not happy to see his town lose the only bank it’s ever had.

“I wasn’t to­tally shocked, but I don’t think they rec­og­nize what we have to do just to get to a garage or even if they care, I sup­pose, for that part. I guess we’re just a speck and ob­vi­ously it’s a cor­po­rate de­ci­sion.”

Do­minie has reached out Sco­tia­bank’s Cor­ner Brook of­fice ask­ing them to re­verse the de­ci­sion.

“I’ve asked them to look at do­ing things dif­fer­ently, like maybe open one day a week or chang­ing the hours or ne­go­ti­at­ing rent on a build­ing here in town – what­ever it may take to keep them here.”

Meet­ing can­celled

He has yet to re­ceive a re­ply, but a pub­lic town hall meet­ing sched­uled for Sept. 26 was sub­se­quently can­celled.

Stewart wrote that the can­cel­la­tion was due to un­fore­seen cir­cum­stances and ex­pects to resched­ule the meet­ing soon. How­ever, it seems un­likely that the meet­ing between res­i­dents and Sco­tia­bank rep­re­sen­ta­tives will pre­vent the branch clo­sure.

At a Sept. 24 meet­ing in Rod­dick­ton-Bide Arm, Sco­tia­bank’s lo­cal dis­trict vice-pres­i­dent An­gela Miles stated re­peat­edly to the 100 res­i­dents in at­ten­dance that the bank’s de­ci­sion to close that branch was fi­nal, prompt­ing Main Brook mayor Bar­bara Genge to de­clare the meet­ing “a waste of time.”

“Town halls are held to in­form the pub­lic, have an open di­a­logue about the changes tak­ing place in their com­mu­ni­ties and out­line the ways we can as­sist with the tran­si­tion,” Stewart wrote in her email.

“We have con­sid­ered all op­tions for the branch be­fore we made this dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion. Af­ter care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion, we had to make the de­ci­sion that we can­not con­tinue to op­er­ate this branch.”

Once the branch closes, the town may be left with a sin­gle ATM be­long­ing to a pri­vate busi­ness.

“We don’t know if Sco­tia­bank even plans to have an ATM here,” said Do­minie.

He’s aware of some res­i­dents who have pledged to move their bank­ing ser­vices to an en­tirely dif­fer­ent in­sti­tu­tion. The Bur­geo branch also serves the com­mu­ni­ties of Grey River and Fran­cois, which are also only ac­ces­si­ble via the coastal ferry ser­vice.

“The more peo­ple who change, if peo­ple de­cide to cut down their busi­ness and move some­where else, then I’m sure the next thing down the road you’re go­ing to hear tell of is the same thing hap­pen­ing at Bur­geo if your cus­tomer base starts to di­min­ish.”

Next Au­gust, even dur­ing the height of tourist sea­son, the ferry sched­ule means that per­form­ing a rou­tinely sim­ple bank trans­ac­tion will re­quire a great deal of time.

“We’re not some­where you can get on a ferry ev­ery 20 min­utes or ev­ery 30 min­utes and go to a bank and come back, and you can’t drive even if it was only an hour down the road and back again,” said the mayor. “You’ve got to spoil a full day to get there.”

PHO­TOS BY ROSALYN ROY / THE GULF NEWS

Mayor Clyde Do­minie is hop­ing Sco­tia­bank will re­con­sider its re­cent de­ci­sion to shut down Ramea’s only bank.

Ramea is an is­land and only ac­ces­si­ble via ferry.

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