A small town in Ramara will lose its only bank next year.
CIBC has announced it will shutter its Brechin branch Aug. 22, consolidating it with its location in Beaverton, some 15 kilometres south.
“Council is disappointed,” Ramara Township Mayor Basil Clarke said, referring to banks as “almost the heart of a small town.”
He said he would be contacting CIBC “to see if there’s anything the municipality can do to help encourage them to stay in our area.”
“But, the decision is going to be made in downtown Toronto,” he said.
A spokesperson for CIBC said modernization, such as online banking, is behind the move.
“Currently, over 80 per cent of our client transactions take place outside of a banking centre, through online, mobile and telephone banking,” said Trish Tervit. “As a result of this shift, we’ve made adjustments to our network that includes a small number of rural and urban banking centre closures.
"The decision to close any of our banking centres is not taken lightly and we carefully consider all options before making this decision," Tervit added.
The president of the Ramara Chamber of Commerce believes the move doesn’t make sense.
“We’re close to having a lot of new development coming to our community. I’m kind of surprised CIBC didn’t look into the crystal ball a little,” said Roger Selman.
He noted Brechin, which is approaching a population of 10,000, and other areas of the township are poised for growth as per the province’s Places to Grow Act.
“I think they’re probably jumping the gun a little bit,” Selman said.
The bank, at the corner of Highway 12 and Ramara Road 47, is a convenient spot for both residents and business owners, Selman said, with the latter often relying on it for night deposits and to get change for their cash registers. Safety deposit boxes will be relocated to Beaverton.
“It affects a lot of small businesses in the region. We’re not like downtown Toronto here,” he said. “They make these decisions in a corporate office and they don’t seem to think of the little people.”
CIBC will reach out to clients to explain alternative forms of banking, Tervit said.
“While the majority of our clients in Brechin are banking using digital options, our team will spend time with clients in the coming months to help them learn more about these convenient options for their everyday banking and to help them through this transition,” she said.
The mayor would like to see CIBC keep a full-service ATM in Brechin, but Tervit said that won’t be happening.
“The ATM will be removed once the banking centre closes,” she said.
With the expected growth in Brechin and area, Selman said the pending closure of the branch should be enticing to other banks.
“Based on our numbers and our growth, they should see this as an opportunity,” he said.
He described the news as “disappointing,” noting the bank has had a presence in Brechin for about 100 years.
“I hope some of the people working there get relocated to Beaverton or Orillia,” he said.
The Brechin branch employs four people, Tervit said, adding the company “will be working with them on options available with CIBC.”
A public meeting about the closure has been planned for April 4, from 7 to 9 p.m., at the Lagoon City Community Association on Laguna Parkway.