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Penticton  

Only bank in town closing

The only bank in Keremeos, CIBC, will be shutting its doors on Mar. 18th, 2018.

Residents of the village who are clients of CIBC will have their accounts transferred to the branch in Osoyoos. After the closure, Valley First Credit Union will be the only storefront offering financial services in Keremeos. 

"As more and more Canadians in both rural and urban areas are choosing to do their banking outside of traditional banking centres, we’ve needed to make some adjustments to our network," Susan Kirwin said, CIBC public relations consultant. 

According to the company, those employed at the bank in Keremeos will be able to find employment at another location if they will be looking to do so.

Mayor Manfred Bauer said he was first contacted last week about the closure by the vice president of CIBC in the Okanagan-Kootenay region. 

"I don't appreciate it, obviously, because it's another business closing on Main Street," Bauer said. "But it's also certainly inconveniencing a lot of CIBC members.

"The other item I mentioned to the district vice president was that the community was not consulted prior to closure," Manfred continued. "This was very much a corporate business decision."

The closure of CIBC will directly impact business in town, according to the Similkameen Chamber of Commerce.

"It just makes business more difficult and expensive to do in town. Anyone that needs to handle deposits or any kind of banking transaction needs to go pretty far out of our community," Chris Mathieson said, president of the Similkameen chamber. "That's a pretty big drain on resources for any small business."

Mathieson, who owns the Grist Mill and Gardens in Keremeos as well, added the business community is affected beyond the storefronts in town with a decision like this.

"It's not always the businesses that you think about... We're a community of farmers. They get paid from the packing house. They're all business people. Having to conduct business out of town is going to be really tough for them."

CIBC will be holding a public meeting on Dec. 7th from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., at the Victory Hall in Keremeos, where leaders from the bank will be available to answer questions and concerns.

"If you consult the community on closing your banking centre, you ought to do that before you make a decision," Bauer said. "I don't know what information they're going to pass on other than the information that's already out there."

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