CIBC to close its branch in Fraser Lake next year

Fraser Lake Mayor Sarrah Storey.

Fraser Lake Mayor Sarrah Storey.

The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) is closing its Fraser Lake branch next year.

CIBC won’t leave behind an ATM when it closes on Sept. 12, 2019, Fraser Lake mayor Sarrah Storey told Lakes District News.

“It’s hard to watch these little communities suffer. Fort St. James lost their CIBC a few years ago. It’s hard when it’s your only bank,” she said.

“It’s a huge loss to our community and it puts more stress and pressure on the community that’s already going through a hard time,” she said, citing the village’s small population and business flight such as the Supervalu grocery store that closed down in 2016.

Fraser Lake to lose Super Valu store

The branch had been experiencing “diminishing returns” for several years, and has been open five days a week but customers’ increasing use of online banking has seen its activity slow down, Storey said.

In a statement, CIBC said more than 80 per cent of its client transactions happen on mobile phones, online or through telephones.

That shift to digital banking has led the bank to make adjustments to its network “that includes a small number of rural and urban banking centre closures.”

“The community is at the point where we’re hopeful but we’re frustrated,” Storey explained. “We realize that technology advancements are partially going that way. A lot of people are using smartphones and computers for banking. But not everyone is doing that. Some seniors and low income people aren’t doing that.”

“Our big concern is that businesses won’t have a place to do their deposits because they don’t want to drive 40 minutes to do their deposits.”

CIBC said the Fraser Lake branch will consolidate with the Vanderhoof branch.

The bank has 12 branches from Quesnel to Prince Rupert in northern British Columbia.

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