• John Jantak

Residents complain to council about upcoming bank closure


PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

Two Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue residents complained to council about the upcoming closure of the Bank of Montreal branch on Ste. Anne Street in the village which will leave the municipality without a physical bank.

The upcoming closure of the Bank of Montreal branch in the Ste. Anne de Bellevue village – the only remaining bank in the city – prompted two residents to voice their concerns about the negative effects it will have on clients during question period at the Monday evening council meeting on February 10.

Resident Laurence Boudreau began by asking council whether it was possible for the city to try to retain businesses that cater to the needs of the residents who live in the village.

“I feel bad about losing the bank,” said Boudreau. “I don’t have a car. I live in the village and I don’t do any online banking and I don’t have any intention of starting now. It’s a shame that a service that touches so many people is closing. I need a bank.”

Closure will be hard on seniors

For 70-year-old Pierre Dagenais, the upcoming closure means he, and most of his friends, also won’t have access to nearby banking services. Dagenais can’t drive to another bank because he doesn’t have a car. He said he will probably have to move to another area that is closer to a bank.

His only other option would be to walk to the nearest branch which is across the Galipeault Bridge in neighbouring L’Île-Perrot, about a three-kilometre hike in each direction, which he said isn’t very practical.

Dagenais said his group of friends are furious with the closure, saying people with limited mobility will have a hard time getting the services they need without a bank in the village. “The people are very angry. I don’t take out large amounts of money, just a little bit at a time because I like the personal contact I get with the tellers. It gives us a better sense of community,” he said.

Citizen frustration understandable

Mayor Paola Hawa empathized with their concerns saying their feelings are understandable. “Part of the convenience of being a resident in the village area is being able to walk to the bank and deal with an actual person,” she said.

“Mr. Dagenais said it very well. He doesn’t do internet or telephone banking. He’s 70 years old and for him it’s still important to have another human being serve him. It’s very understandable,” said Hawa.

Bank closures becoming more common

The mayor was pragmatic in her assessment of the situation saying that bank closures are becoming more common. “It’s the wave of the future. Banks are reducing the number of branches they have and consolidating them into bigger branches,” she said.

Some banks such as Tangerine have no physical brick and mortar locations – all transactions are done exclusively online, said Hawa. “This is the way it’s going. I really don’t know if this is what progress is all about. The Bank of Montreal is my personal bank too and it’s the city’s bank and now like everyone else, I’ll have to go elsewhere,” she said.

Hawa also noted that neighbouring Baie d’Urfé lost their only bank branch a few years ago. “This is the way it’s going everywhere,” she said.

As of press time, Bank of Montreal Media Relations office did not reply to The Journal’s request for comment.

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