South Peace News
McLennan town council unhappy regarding the eventual closure of the town’s ATB Financial [ATB] branch May 12, especially the way the announcement was made.
Council met for the first time on Feb. 14 after the closure was announced Feb. 2 to formulate a plan of action.
“I got zero work done that day,” said Councillor Sue Delaurier, who works at the local post office.
“By the time 10 c’clock came I had four irate people at the counter.
“I don’t blame the people,” she added. “The Town knew nothing about this.”
She was highly critical of ATB’s actions.
“It was done very unprofessionally,” said Delaurier regarding the announcement, and remembering the bank being in town since she was a child.
“To end a business through a phone call or email. . .very unprofessional.”
Councillor Margaret Jacob agreed noting the bank’s history of supporting rural Alberta.
“We support small rural Alberta.
That’s what they say in their ads,” said Jacob.
“ATB built their business on rural communities,” added Doris.
He offered an alternative for the bank to consider.
“Nothing is ever too late. . .Maybe even [open] once a week,” he suggested.
Doris told council an ATB official told him the bank explored “all avenues” in efforts to stay open.
“He said its [closure] has been in review the last five years,” said Doris, who added he was told the bank tracked stats for five years. Council was not surprised usage decreased given all banks promote its online services.
What also angers council is possible closure was not the message delivered at its June 14, 2021, meeting when a delegation of three from ATB attended and reassured them the bank was committed to remaining open in the town. ATB reps Tracy Gagne, Nizil Ibrahim and Nichole Simard attended the meeting.
However, council also heard the McLennan branch is one of the smallest branches in Alberta. Coupled with a decreasing regional population, the decline in customer interaction, plus the fact more customers are banking digitally, means any future decision may change if trends continue.
The “may change” has occurred and the news does not sit well with council.
Councillor Maggie Gervais suggested inviting “a different bank” to come to town.
“A lot of people I talked to said they were moving money out of the bank,” she added.
“Maybe the credit union will entertain. . .” said Delaurier.
Council agreed to write a letter to ATB expressing its displeasure.
Doris said earlier ATB has no desire to meet with council to discuss its decision.