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North shore town tries to counter bank closure

Township of Terrace Bay calls a community meeting to consider options.

TERRACE BAY, ON — Business operators and community members will gather Wednesday night to discuss options in the wake of CIBC's decision to close its Terrace Bay branch.

The Township of Terrace Bay organized the meeting with the aim of forming a committee to look into what, if anything, can be done to mitigate the inconvenience the effects of the closure.

CIBC announced in November 2018 that it will relocate its Terrace Bay banking centre to the Memorial Avenue branch in Thunder Bay this August.

The bank explained that over 80 per cent of its client transactions take place not at a branch but through online, mobile and telephone banking.

"As a result of this shift, we've made adjustments to our network that includes a small number of rural and urban banking system closures," spokesperson Jon Kastikainen said.

The announcement followed the October closure of the CIBC location in Thunder Bay's south core.

Terrace Bay is not the only small town in northwestern Ontario to experience the impact of increased digital banking.

TD closed its Marathon branch last summer, and Atikokan previously lost both its TD and CIBC branches. The CIBC branch in Longlac will close next month.

The CIBC closure in Terrace Bay will leave Schreiber/Terrace Bay residents with just one bank within relatively driving distance—the Bank of Montreal in Schreiber. 

Terrace Bay Chief Administrative Officer Jon Hall says that's still 14 kilometres away, and the community meeting is being held to uncover any "great ideas or preferences in terms of lobbying or finding alternatives."

One option that's already been raised is to invite a credit union to return to Schreiber/Terrace Bay.

Another idea, Hall said in an interview, is to continue to lobby CIBC to maintain its ATMs in Terrace Bay. "So far, it doesn't sound like it's promising," he said.

Besides affecting residents who prefer on-site banking, the closure will bring challenges to a number of local businesses which deal in cash on a daily basis,  

"It's a big inconvenience to them," Hall said. "Having the closest CIBC branch in Thunder Bay, two-and-a-half hours away, is definitely not convenient."

The issue is important enough, he said, that he expects the meeting Wednesday evening will attract a good-sized crowd.

It starts at 6:30 p.m in the community centre.