Banking on Ottawa: Grand Manan mayor tries to keep Scotiabank from leaving

·2 min read
Bonnie Morse, mayor of Grand Manan, hopes to change the fate of the only bank on the island with a meeting in Ottawa (CBC New Brunswick - image credit)
Bonnie Morse, mayor of Grand Manan, hopes to change the fate of the only bank on the island with a meeting in Ottawa (CBC New Brunswick - image credit)

Grand Manan Mayor Bonnie Morse and a delegation are in Ottawa today to speak with the federal Finance Department about the imminent closure of the island's lone bank.

Scotiabank, which has been on Grand Manan for decades, will close its branch on Aug. 24.

John Williamson, the Conservative MP for the area, set up the meeting, Morse said.

After its closure, travelling on the ferry to St. George will be the only way Grand Mananers can access a physical bank branch.

The bank will not be leaving a banking machine on the island, either, according to an emailed statement from a Scotiabank spokesperson.

Maggie MacPherson/CBC
Maggie MacPherson/CBC

"The decision is final and we did not make it lightly," the bank said in a statement.

"Scotiabank has a longstanding relationship with the community in Grand Manan and we want to assure residents that our support of the community will continue."

While online banking is an option, Morse said that some of the island's population are too old to be able to handle that.  About 1/5th of the total population of Grand Manan is 65 years old or over, according to Statistics Canada.

Morse also said that businesses, community events and fundraising initiatives still prefer to deal in cash, which requires a branch on the island.

The mayor is also concerned about future prospects for the island, wondering if businesses considering setting up on Grand Manan might not want to do so without a financial institution.

Shane Fowler/CBC
Shane Fowler/CBC

When the mayor spoke to Scotiabank about the closure, she said she asked for a deal with reduced services, but the bank was not interested.

With a 45-minute check-in time at the ferry, a 90-minute crossing to St. George, and then a drive to the bank — paired with ferry schedule — "it's close to a nine-hour day to go to do a 10-minute banking session.

"So it really is a huge obstacle to people," said Morse.

Scotiabank has been on the island for more than 100 years, and Morse said it's part of the community.

"It does feel like a little bit of a betrayal maybe, that they are leaving in this kind of fashion."

 

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