The decision for Kootenay Savings Credit Union to cut back on its branch hours has drawn a public protest from Kaslo’s village council. File photo

The decision for Kootenay Savings Credit Union to cut back on its branch hours has drawn a public protest from Kaslo’s village council. File photo

Kootenay Savings Credit Union service cuts a ‘disservice,’ says Kaslo mayor

The credit union has shortened its operating hours

By John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice

Kootenay Savings Credit Union has made more changes to its branch hours, and they aren’t going down well with Kaslo civic leaders.

Both the Kaslo and New Denver branches are now open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and the Nakusp and South Slocan branches are open Tuesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The seniors-only hour from 10 to 11 a.m. has been discontinued.

Despite the shorter hours, KSCU says employees will still be on site conducting advisory appointments by phone or responding to calls to its Member Service Centre.

“Branch transaction volume trends have been monitored over the last few years and we have seen a decreasing trend,” the credit union said in a document on its website. “In addition, several alternate ways to bank have been added over the last few years.

“There is no doubt members’ banking behaviours are changing,” it continues. “What’s not changing is our commitment to offering you choice and trusted advice to assist you with your financial goals.”

But Kaslo’s Mayor Suzan Hewat isn’t a fan of the change of service or how it was rolled out.

“On behalf of council, I will express our disappointment at how the days and hours of operation were considered, without any consultation with our residents or business owners who rely on your banking services,” Mayor Suzan Hewat wrote to a senior manager at KSCU, Colleen Yee.

At the beginning of the pandemic, Kaslo’s branch hours were reduced to Tuesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (from Tuesday to Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. pre-pandemic). Now they are being further reduced to Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Hewat pointed out the change to Monday, Wednesday and Friday “is a disservice to business owners and people who work weekdays, as they cannot conveniently get to the bank except on Saturday.”

The mayor also pointed out that ending Thursday service would affect residents living north of Kaslo, who only get bus service to town on that day. As well, there are many statutory holidays on Mondays, affecting the credit union’s hours.

“And we have a lot of seniors here,” she told the Valley Voice. “The push for online banking – where does that leave them?”

In a later exchange with Yee, Hewat said the manager told her she may be able to consider an alternate opening day on those weeks with statutory holidays. However, Hewat reports that Yee indicated the reduction in hours is likely permanent.

While Hewat says there’s probably nothing council can do about it, her letter on behalf of council to Yee remained hopeful.

“We appreciate the support of KSCU and recognize its importance to our community,” Hewat wrote. “It is with great regret that we see the scaling back of financial services to our residents and businesses and we hope to see services restored once we are through these troubling times and would welcome further dialogue with you regarding this matter.”

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