When Canwood Mayor Robert Thompson heard the CIBC location in his village was shutting down, he saw it as just “one more nail in the coffin” and asked, “what's next?”
“It is probably about three or four jobs but anytime you lose jobs in a small community it is not a good,” he said. “The chance of replacing [a business] is next to zero.”
The banking centre will close Aug. 10 and merge some operations with Prince Albert locations.
He said the bank serves an area much greater than Canwood, which isn't always recognized. With an ageing population where not everybody drives, news like this can be “a little disturbing.”
Though the town still has a pharmacy, a Co-op, an Affinity Credit Union and health care practitioners, as people lose access to services, Thompson said they start to question why they should not just move to Shellbrook or another community.
“It becomes a pretty big concern,” he said.
This concern is one shared by the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) and the Saskatchewan Urban Municipality Association (SUMA).
Friday, the associations released a joint statement on the matter, saying they want to ensure “residents have access to banking close to home.” They said small-town Saskatchewan relies on convenient access to banking and the loss of a rural institution impacts their ability to conduct business.
SARM President Ray Orb said the news puts “a level of discomfort out there.” He acknowledged the trend of customers moving to online banking but said there are a number of seniors in these communities who do not have access to computers at all or have the opportunity to connect to high-speed internet.
“To be able to do their banking online, it is not possible for some people,” he said. “It causes people to drive further to another town…it takes time out of your day and is an added expense to your business.”
He said the loss of business in small communities is a disconcerting trend and impacts the people on ranches and acreages.
Orb said SARM and SUMA would have liked some advanced notice to the closures and extended an invitation to the banks to sit down, discuss the impact and reassess the situation. SUMA has suggested deploying additional ATMs in the communities.
“It is a tough sell,” he said.
On Twitter: @JournoMarr
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