IROQUOIS – South Dundas residents who bank at the Bank of Montreal branch in Iroquois will have to go farther to visit their local branch.
The Iroquois branch posted a notice to customers on April 9th that it will close its doors for good October 19th.
The notice was in the lobby and on the windows of the building, and stated customers will be able to go to the BMO branch in Morrisburg.
“This is terrible,” said Iroquois resident Joyce Latulippe.
“We have rentals that we manage and all the accounts are there.” She added that the accounts are there for convenience for tenants.
“I think it is bad for the community,” said local business owner Jim Mustard.
“It’s the way banks are going, but it’s nice to be able to go in and talk to people when you have an issue.”
After The Leader went to print Wednesday, a representative from the Bank of Montreal replied to our request for comment.
“By and large, our customers have received the news very positively,” said Ralph Marranca – director of corporate media relations and issues management with BMO. “They’re appreciative that BMO is trying to contact them early and trying to make the transition as easy for them as we can.”
The bank will be keeping an automated teller machine in Iroquois for customers, in the neighbouring Iroquois Foodland.
“By the time the branch closes we will have one of those full-service ATM’s,” said Mike Eastman, owner of the Foodland. “We were approached a while ago about this.”
Marranca told The Leader that the full service ATM will be in place in Iroquois in May.
“Customer needs are changing,” said Marranca. “We’re seeing a growing demand for face-to-face specialized advisory services and at the same time fewer over-the-counter transactions.”
A survey by the Canadian Banking Association in 2017 stated that 68 per cent of Canadians use online and mobile banking as their primary means of banking. This is up 16 per cent since 2012.
Marranca said the Morrisburg branch offered a “number of physical amenities that we couldn’t provide at the Iroquois branch.”
He added that Morrisburg offered better parking facilities, more parking spaces, and more office space.
“Our Morrisburg branch is scheduled to undergo a renovation and upgrade,” he said. “We felt we could better accommodate customers’ growing demand, out of what will be a larger, refurbished location where many of our Iroquois customers already do a significant amount of banking.”
Marranca said no decisions have been made about the Iroquois branch employees.
“We’re giving our Iroquois employees some time to think about what they’d like to do going forward,” he said. “They see this as a good opportunity to reflect upon the opportunities both within and outside the bank that this change represents.”
The Iroquois branch has three employees presently, a branch manager and two customer service representatives.
This is the second BMO branch to close in South Dundas. The Williamsburg branch on County Road 18 closed in October 2003. This will leave Morrisburg the only branch in South Dundas.
According to the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, a bank must give four months notice before closing a branch.
“I was told they will be holding a public meeting in May,” said South Dundas mayor Evonne Delegarde.
She added that it is never a good thing to see a business close, but understood the changes in the banking industry.
“There is still a branch left, and the Royal is here,” she said.
The branch opened in 1898 by Molson’s Bank at the corner of King and Victoria Streets. The name changed in 1925 when Molson’s Bank merged with the Bank of Montreal. It relocated to the Iroquois plaza in 1957 during the St. Lawrence Seaway construction project.