GREAT NORTHERN PENINSULA EAST, N.L.
NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR
When the Scotiabank in Roddickton-Bide Arm closes in October, 2019, residents of those communities will have to drive over 100 kilometers if they want to see a bank teller, face to face.
The nearest Scotiabank is in Flower’s Cove, 111 km away; the branch in St. Anthony is a distance of 124 km.
It’s clear, following a meeting with a representative of Scotiabank on Sept. 24, the bank is not about to change its mind on its decision to close the Roddickton branch.
The branch has been located in the community for 38 years, serving people from the local area, including Englee, Conche and Main Brook.
A meeting hosted by Scotiabank in Roddickton-Bide Arm on Sept. 24 didn't go as citizens expected.
People who attended the meeting at the Gerry Bryne Room had hoped it might be more of a ‘consultation’ meeting, and a chance to convince Scotiabank to reconsider its decision.
Most of them asked for an explanation for why the branch was closing and wondered if Scotiabank could reconsider its decision.
“I think the public went there thinking it was going to be a consultation to discuss concerns and that just maybe there may be some opportunity to negotiate the plans for the bank,” Roddickton-Bide Arm mayor Sheila Fitzgerald told The Northern Pen. “People were looking for answers, why this was happening.”
Angela Miles, Scotiabank’s local district vice president, fielded the questions.
Throughout the meeting Miles remained firm that Scotiabank could not provide any information on how the decision to close was reached and kept reiterating that the decision was final.
After an hour and a half, the meeting concluded with no discussion around the transition to other services.
Main Brook mayor Barbara Genge called the meeting a “waste of time.”
“It’s the only time I’ve ever gone to a meeting and someone was doing something drastic, changing something that you had for a long time, and couldn’t give you a reason,” she told The Northern Pen after the meeting. “Nobody knows why that bank is closing. We all got our opinions but we don’t know.”
Fitzgerald said that people felt “frustrated” and “betrayed” by the decision and lack of answers.
She also felt that Scotiabank didn’t do a good job publicizing the meeting.
“The intent of it wasn’t clear,” she said.
She felt the meeting primarily functioned as a venting session for the public.
Some residents were adamant they would look elsewhere for banking and felt a new institution would need to open in the town.
In a statement to The Northern Pen, Scotiabank said it recognized the news was difficult and the change would cause inconvenience for customers.
The bank said it was committed to working with customers to assist them with the transition.
“The team at our Roddickton branch is committed to hosting seminars to assist customers with the move, and to demonstrate online banking applications and other banking options such as telephone banking,” the statement read.
Regarding whether the purpose of the meeting could have been communicated more clearly, Scotiabank said notices are posted at the consolidating branch and the town halls are held to inform the public, to have an open dialogue about the changes taking place in the communities and outline ways the company can assist with the transition.
All customers will be notified by letter of the Roddickton-Bide Arm branch consolidation with Flower’s Cove.
Scotiabank is also closing two other branches in this province, La Scie and Ramea.
During the Sept. 24 Mayor Fitzgerald informed Scotiabank and the public she had contacted the Eagle River Credit Union regarding the possibility of opening in Roddickton-Bide Arm after Scotiabank closes its doors.
The idea received support from the people in the room.
St. Barbe -L’Anse aux Meadows MHA Christopher Mitchelmore, who was also at the meeting, said he would assist in helping to attract financial or banking services to Roddickton-Bide Arm. He added the Credit Union has had success on the Northern Peninsula with two branches already located there. And it replaced Scotiabank after the bank closed its branch in Triton.
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