The town of Metcalfe, about 15 minutes north of Winchester, is at risk of losing its RBC branch later this year. However, residents of the small town are not about to give up without a fight. Locals were shocked when notices of the upcoming closure were posted online, and on the door of the Metcalfe branch, informing customers that they would soon have to travel to Findlay Creek, Winchester, or Embrun for their banking.
Metcalfe Community Association President Marc Sauve told the Times that the RBC branch in Metcalfe has been around for decades – since about the 1960s. “A lot of the seniors don’t do online banking,” said Marc. “A lot of them don’t even have computers.” Marc explained that there is a lot of traffic that goes through the Metcalfe RBC, comprising both local residents and residents from neighboring towns. Many seniors from the local retirement community use the bank to get coins to do their laundry. There are people who have used the services of the Metcalfe branch for close to 60 years, having opened their first account there. “It’s pretty much a hub of the village,” said Marc. Metcalfe is also growing, so many residents, and the Community Association, believe that closing the branch is a bad move. Marc told the Times that a reporter from CTV News had come out to the branch to cover the story, and was amazed at the high amount of traffic in and out of the Metcalfe branch.
Unfortunate as it may be, it is becoming increasingly common for small town banks to close, as banks attempt to decrease costs by amalgamating smaller branches into nearby larger branches. An example occurred in 2013 when Scotiabank made the decision to close its branches in Avonmore, St. Isidore, and Maxville all at the same time, while opening a new large branch in Casselman. The move was met with fierce resistance from locals in each town, but Avonmore and St. Isidore still lost their branches. Maxville residents were successful in keeping their branch open.
More recently, a local town lost its fi ght with Scotiabank, and yet another small town bank – in South Mountain – bit the dust. Small town banks that close down invariably provide local automated services via ATM and ABM machines. The old South Mountain location still has a functioning ABM in the front of the building (now used by House of Lazarus), which provides withdrawals in multiples of $20, as well as envelope free deposits and a few other services. Avonmore was not so lucky, receiving only a cash ATM within a neighboring store. Regardless of the level of automation provided, there will always be some services that are only available at a staffed branch. This is especially true for people who do not have access to online banking services, who need to visit a branch to do things such as pay their bills.
Signs have been erected around the town to draw attention to the issue, and a rally was held on July 11 at Victoria Park, across from the branch, to protest the proposed closure. A petition of over 700 signatures was delivered to the branch manager on that day. The Metcalfe Community Association continues to fight to save the Metcalfe RBC branch, but only time will tell if the small town gets to keep its beloved little bank.