By Shelly Wiebe
Following CIBC’s announcement to close the Port Rowan branch on July 19th, the bank held a community informational meeting on February 22nd at the Port Rowan Community Centre.
The event attracted over 100 residents.
The purpose of the meeting was to answer questions and discuss alternative banking options for customers of the branch.
However, it was a sea of emotions and individuals were given ample opportunity to speak freely and ask questions of the two representatives of CIBC.
Jon Kastikainen, the bank’s Senior Manager of Stakeholder Communications and Public Affairs, made it clear to the crowd that the bank closing was going to happen and that the meeting would not change that decision.
“If you watch the news or read the papers then you know that there is a lot of change happening in how people do their banking,” he said, adding “our research shows that 80% of the transactions that take place are happening outside of a brick and mortar centre.”
In his opening remarks, Mr. Kastikainen said that CIBC “had to make a tough decision and that included some bank closures and changes to our operating models.”
The large crowd in attendance showed that the bank’s closing is an issue of high priority to this community. Those who spoke came with clear, concise and thought out questions.
Some of those questions included the obvious such as whether or not a new ATM could be installed that would accept deposits from the business owners.
Mr. Kastikainen was quick to speak of the different banking options that would be available to their clients, but said there would be no installation of a new banking machine for deposits.
It was asked if the downtown Bay Street bank building would be put up for sale. The bank’s representative responded that the CIBC branch would be put up for sale eventually, although it could take up to six months after the closing date for that to happen.
Questions were asked about how seniors in the community were going to do their banking when many of them don’t own or use computers.
Among the many questions asked of the bank’s officials, there was an overwhelming sense of broken trust and loyalty from the bank to a community that had been supportive of the local branch for decades.
Although many options were being given by CIBC to create alternative banking arrangements, for some of the bank’s current customers there didn’t seem to be a solution and that was creating a sense of frustration.
“At the end of the day, we all have different needs, capabilities and are able to access different technology… we will make it easy for you to find what works best for you,” stated Mr. Kastikainen.
The meeting ended around 9 p.m. with some questions that may never get suitable answers for some residents.
If anyone thought the bank might be persuaded to change its mind, it seems certain the CIBC will follow through with the decision to close at 5 p.m. on Thursday, July 19th, 2018.
Whispers throughout the crowd as the hall emptied into the parking lot remained positive with many hopeful that a new banking institution would see the prosperity of this town and make a home here. The positive and forward thinking attitude of this community shows the amazing spirit of Port Rowan residents and that it is certainty a place worth investing in.