Tuesday, June 30, 2009
CREDIT UNION CLOSED By BARB RAYNER
CAMPOBELLO – Friday was the end of an era on Campobello as the island’s branch of the Charlotte County Credit Union closed its doors for the last time leaving islanders without any financial institution.
To protest the closure, which will mean islanders will have to drive to St. Stephen to do their banking, Mary Fowler organized a rally and about 60 people showed up.
“The whole idea is to let them know we are not happy about the way we have been treated. We would expect this from a bank but not from a Credit Union.
“We were supposedly owners of the Credit Union and we were not given any notice. If we had been given notice we would have been able to do something. This (rally) is just to show our frustration.”
Islanders marched around the parking lot outside the Credit Union chanting “Shame on you CCCU” and brandishing placards expressing such sentiments as “We are not going to St. Stephen,” “We are not the problem – CCCU management is”, “Campobello is a forgotten island”, “Does no one care about us?”, “The CU sold us out”, “Where does this leave seniors?”, “Down with CCCU”, “Shame on you CCCU” and “We cannot survive without a bank.”
Armed with a megaphone, Gerry Hicks, chair of the island’s Health and Wellness Advisory Committee, accompanied by some of the protestors, went to the locked door of the Credit Union during the lunch time rally calling for someone from management to come out to speak to them. No one did, so they marched around to the rear door but still got no response from those inside.
Speaking to the crowd, he said islanders have to take control of their own futures since it was clear they didn’t have support from the local, provincial or federal governments when it came to preserving the quality of life for residents.
He said they either accept defeat or fight to maintain the kind of life they deserve and the level of services they are entitled to. Hicks said the committee has been working very hard to find another bank, for a year-round ferry and on local governance.
“As an island community we are handicapped by our own government and they hold the keys. A petition is being circulated to have our status determined that we are, in fact, an island community and with that we are entitled to a certain degree of services.”
While everyone knew the closure of the Credit Union was coming, he said he didn’t think the inconvenience of this will sink in until next week.
“This is not just about the closure of a bank. This is about the preservation of the community and the people and the quality of life... It is up to us to say how things are going to be run and not simply to be dictated to.”
Hicks questioned what the island may lose next and said they have to fight to keep what they have because they didn’t see this coming and there was no collaboration or negotiation so they were just left to deal with the ramifications. He urged people to continue to support the businesses which are on the island.
The decision to close this branch and the one in Blacks Harbour was announced in April and Gerald Adams, president and CEO of Credit Union Centre in New Brunswick, blamed lack of business. The Campobello branch opened in May 2001 following the closure of the Scotiabank branch there.
Glen Alexander, who is a member of the island’s Health and Wellness Advisory Committee, commented as he put up posters, “I feel they have abandoned us for no good reason. They have not made any concessions. We know we are not going to change their minds. There is no hope of that. We just hope someone will come along.”
Debbie Barker, who created a huge banner protesting the closure, said, ”I feel strongly about how it happened. There was no community awareness. They just came in and announced it to the staff.
“I thought the credit union was run by the people. We are working on trying to get another bank but nothing has been confirmed. We are looking at having to drive 40 miles and there are people who don’t have vehicles.”
Marianne Alexander said the closure of the Credit Union was just something else that had been taken from island residents. She said every community needs a bank and there was also the loss of the jobs as well.
“It is the seniors I am most worried about. It is devastating. It is another nail in our coffin but we are not going down without a fight,” she said.
Inside the Credit Union, where customers waited to do their last minute banking, a number of residents brought in flowers and treats for the four local staff while staff from the head office in St. Stephen and the Credit Union’s Risk Management Agency worked in a back office.
As she waited in line, Joanne Matthews said it was a sad day for the island and it is going to be tough especially for seniors because many of them will have to rely on someone else to take them to St. Stephen to do their banking.
“That takes away their independence. Everything is funnelling off the island and very little is funnelling back. It’s just like you don’t see much hope here and our children cannot stay. It is pretty sad.
“If it were not for a dead U.S. president we would not even have what we have now because we are pretty well running on tourism. They are cutting back at the provincial park but the Roosevelt Park is the only one that can weather it.
“My husband doesn’t want to go to St. Stephen and I don’t want to go over that bridge. What are business people going to do? I use this bank a lot and these girls are excellent.”
Diane Getchell said business people are going to have to take time out of their busy schedules to go to St. Stephen to do their banking and no matter how many ATMs there are on the island – there are two – you cannot get coin out of them.
Janet Cline, chair of Campobello Cooperative Ltd., which owns the building the Credit Union shares with Value Foods and Herring Cove Pharmacy, said they are concerned about the loss of the rent for that portion which goes towards paying the mortgage and taxes.
“We are losing approximately $1,800 a month in rent with their demise. It is going to be very difficult for us, as a cooperative, to continue to stay in business.
We are trying to find someone to rent the space. We have been working on this ever since we were notified they were leaving. We will make it for a while but once that income is lost there is a strong possibility everything is going to be lost and we won’t have a grocery store anymore. We will be back to square one.”
She said it was about 15 years ago that the people of Campobello rallied round and formed the cooperative. The original grocery store was a co-op and the pharmacy moved into the complex about three years later.
Alan Seeley said devastated was not a strong enough word to describe how islanders felt. He said they have been let down and lied to especially as their branch was the one which was carrying the outfit.
“We were the first one and they told us they had to have four branches in order for it to run and now they are kicking out two of them and figure they can run on two. In St. Stephen, the very best they can do is 20 per cent because there are four other banks in the town plus a currency exchange.”
Lloyd Getchell said what bothers him is that they all paid $300 membership fees to join and were told they were an intricate part of this Credit Union.
“Then when they made the decision to rip it out of here they never asked any of us. It is an hour to go to St. Stephen. It costs me about $40 in gas to get there and back.
“One thing we are really worried about is that if people have to go to St. Stephen to do their banking they will buy their groceries and pick up their drugs there so we could lose Value Foods and the pharmacy as well.”
Following the rally, Hicks said the committee are continuing to look at possibilities for another bank on the island and have been talking to both the National Bank and RBC.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
1. There will be a Passport Canada official conducting an information session on Monday May 4th at 6:00pm at the school. Everything you need to know about getting or renewing a passport.
2. The Canada Passport Office will set up a mobile passport office on Campobello Island on Thursday May 7th from 2:00 - 8:00 at the school. Passport forms will be processed on site as long as you have everything in order. Come to the meeting to find out and read below to make sure you have what you need. This could save you the time and expense of traveling to Fredericton.
Please tell everyone you know....
-Applicants need to follow instructions provided in the form, but in general they will need to provide the following:
General Application (3 page-application for adult)
form filled including the guarantor part
2 pictures signed by the guarantor
original birth certificate (which will be given back on site)
an original supporting ID (driver's licence, health card... which will be given back on site)
payment (credit card, money order or certified cheque)
form filled including the guarantor (the applicant is one of the parent and the guarantor is for the applicant, not the child)
2 pictures signed by the guarantor
original birth certificate (if the parents were not married at the time the child was born, we will need a long form birth certificate. Birth certificate will be given back on site)
Any court papers regarding adoption or separation or divorce
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
CAMPOBELLO ISLAND - The impending loss of banking services on Campobello Island makes the need for elected local government more pressing, Gerry Hicks says.
The Charlotte County Credit Union intends to close its Campobello Island branch on June 26. At a recent public meeting, the community formed a committee to look at alternatives for banking services.
"Really, what you need to work for is that legitimate voice," the co-chairman of the Campobello Island Health and Wellness Advisory Committee said the day after a community meeting to organize a response to the decision by the Charlotte County Credit Union to close its branch on the island.
Several hundred people attended the standing-room-only meeting at the Campobello Island Community School, a huge percentage of the adult population of a community of about 1,000.
The health and wellness advisory committee, a partnership with Regional Health Authority B, organized the meeting.
However, an elected local government with more authority than a local service district advisory committee would provide leaders who could claim to speak for the community, Hicks said.
An elected mayor and council could deal with the government on issues such as year-round ferry service, or discuss options with the credit union, Hicks said.
If they want a municipal government, Campobello Islanders will have to convince the province to enact it contrary to the recommendation of commissioner Jean-Guy Finn in his report Building Stronger Local Governments and Regions. The government released this report in December, then tabled it.
The health and wellness advisory committee wants a link to the New Brunswick mainland as an alternative to driving through Maine and crossing the international border twice to get to St. Stephen.
The province dropped the Campobello ferry when the Franklin D. Roosevelt International Bridge opened in 1962, linking the island to Lubec, Maine.
With tighter restrictions since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, more people believe this island needs a ferry.
The credit union intends to close shop June 26, a few weeks after the Americans intend to demand that Canadians show passports to enter their country. To many people this provides another argument for a ferry.
Charlotte-Campobello MLA Tony Huntjens, a Progressive Conservative on the Opposition side of the legislature, calls a year-round ferry to Campobello "an absolute necessity."
However, the budget that Finance Minister Victor Boudreau released March 17 has no money for a ferry to Campobello Island. Instead it proposes to cut two historic ferries crossing the lower St. John River and one on Belleisle Bay.
The government plans to build new ferries for Grand Manan, White Head Island and Deer Island - but intends to cut the number of daily trips in the winter.
Leadership on the ferry and the credit union issues fell to the health and wellness advisory committee since there is no elected group to represent the community.
"I really see it (the pending credit union shutdown) as a catalyst to pushing the other two forward," Hicks said, referring to local government and a ferry.
The people at the community meeting wanted alternatives to do their banking.
"There was certainly an element of frustration but it was more 'what can we do?' " Hicks said.
The group formed a committee, which Hicks will head, to come up with proposals. The committee will meet the board of the Campobello Island Co-operative, which rents space to the Credit Union. New Brunswick Southwest MP Greg Thompson appointed one of his staff to deal with this file, Hicks said.
The committee will crunch numbers and "put it out as almost a request for proposals" to any financial institutions interested. "We're going to market the opportunity for somebody to come in and say, 'This is what we've got to offer.'"
The Credit Union opened a branch in Campobello Island in 2008 after the Bank of Nova Scotia closed its local branch. The island will not likely draw another full-service banking institution, Hicks said.
Pat Purcell, manager of the Bank of Montreal in St. Stephen, attended the meeting Monday night "just to become informed" and to understand the needs of customers.
"We were there to inform them of alternative banking if that's required," Purcell. She "certainly got a tremendous understanding" of problems on Campobello Island, and came away "very respectful of the leadership that's there."
"There's no business case to put a full financial institution in five days a week," Purcell said. "I think they're doing a really good job at looking at alternatives," she said, referring to the community leadership.
Electronic banking could provide the solution with paper money and coins accounting for an ever shrinking volume of financial transactions.
"I think they've got a good group and they will come up with an alternative plan," Purcell said. However, "It's going to be difficult."
The Charlotte County Credit Union will respond this week to a proposal by Campobello Island insurance agent Mary R. Fowler to provide space at her business location for a pared down banking service, New Brunswick Credit Union Central president Gerard Adams said Wednesday in Riverview.
However, the credit union will not revisit the decision to close the Campobello Island branch, he said.
"I would term it as a system decision," he said, involving the Credit Union Central, Risk Management Agency and the management of the Charlotte County Credit Union.
"In a nutshell, we just can't afford to lose money," he said. "That money is coming out of credit union owners' pockets."
The Charlotte County Credit Union has 4,270 members, depositors who are also shareholders, he said. Less than a quarter of them live on Campobello Island, he noted.
The credit union lost money on the island because not enough people borrowed at the local branch, Adams said. Complaints about difficulty getting loan approvals did not arise until after the credit union decided to close the Campobello Island branch, he said.
"I will say this, we did not receive any complaints of this prior to the announcement (March 30)," Adams said. "None of that certainly was brought to the attention of this office."
The credit union held off its decision to close its automated teller machine on Campobello Island on April 3, but it will not stay after the branch closes. "It will be gone by June 26," Adams said.
Starting June 1, 2009, Canadian citizens will be required to present a valid passport, a NEXUS or Free and Secure Trade (FAST) card, or an enhanced driver's licence/enhanced identification card when seeking to enter the United States at its land or water crossings.
The U.S. document requirements for air travel took effect in January 2007, and require Canadian citizens flying to, through or from the United States to present a valid passport or a valid NEXUS card when used at a NEXUS kiosk at designated participating Canadian airports or at any U.S. airport when returning to Canada. The air travel requirements apply to all Canadian citizens, regardless of age, including children.
You’re invited to a presentation by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) about U.S. entry requirements for Canadian citizens on May 4, 2009 located at Campobello Island Consolidated School.
For more information about U.S. entry requirements for Canadian citizens, please visit the CBSA web site at www.cbsa.gc.ca or call the Border Information Service at 1-800-461-9999.
Please note: Processing procedures and entry requirements into Canada have not changed as a result of this U.S. law.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Mr. Gerry Hicks
Campobello Island Health and Wellness Advisory Committee
36 North Road
Via e mail: email@example.com
Dear Mr. Hicks:
I am in receipt of your letter to Ms. Kathy Woodside, forwarded to me by her, concerning your opinion on the closure of the Campobello Island branch of Charlotte County Credit Union. We respect the mandate of your Committee, and further acknowledge your disappointment with our decision. That said, the decision to close this branch, or for that matter any branch, is not one which is taken lightly. We have analyzed the financial results from this operation and the impact which it has had on the Credit Union as a whole. That analysis made it crystal clear that the decision to close this branch, as well as the one in Blacks Harbour, was both necessary from a business perspective and in the best interests of all the Credit Union’s owners when taken as a group.
We understand your emotion and characterization of our decision. However, a Credit Union, despite its co-operative basis, must operate on sound business principles and therefore must be able to justify its branch network on a financial basis. We regret the loss of jobs and the other impacts on the community; however, we are confident that in the last eight years we have given the community every opportunity to support the Credit Union more fully and have made every effort to create success in this location. Unfortunately, these efforts have failed and we are left no choice but to make this difficult but necessary business decision.
I thank you for your expression of concern on this matter.
Gerard M. Adams, C.A.
President & Chief Executive Officer
Monday, March 30, 2009
Campobello Island Health and Wellness Advisory Committee
March 30, 2009
Kathy Woodside, Senior Manager
Charlotte County Credit Union
73 Milltown Blvd, Suite 107
St Stephen, N.B. E3L 1G5
Re: Proposed Closure – Campobello Island Branch
Dear Ms Woodside
As Chairman of the Campobello Island Health and Wellness Advisory Committee and I am writing to express our unparalleled disappointment with your proposal to close the Campobello Island Branch of Charlotte County Credit Union. The committee and community at large have worked very hard over the past year to initiate positive, long-term changes targeted at enhancing overall quality of life, community programs and economic development. Your decision to close this particular branch runs contrary to everything we have been working towards.
Certainly, we understand that decisions are made in a business forum that are not always popular, however, the impacts to this community that reach well beyond being unpopular, they are unnecessary and unjust. The loss of jobs, absence of another financial institution, inconvenience of our transportation and mobility challenges and the everyday frustration of continually being marginalized as a community impacts us more severely.
A great extent of the frustration can be attributed to the lack of consultation with the members, residents and businesses of the community you serve with regards to your plans. This Credit Union was founded by residents who rallied the support of a community that was to be left without a financial institution. It has been owned by its resident members and provided a tremendous service to a community at a crucial time. We deserve better and would ask that you and your management team address the community to provide the rationale for your decision and the courtesy of answering our questions. We are entitled.
Thank you in advance for your time and consideration, we look forward to speaking with you.
Gerry Hicks / Marianne Alexander
Chair / Co-Chair – Campobello Island Health and Wellness Advisory Committee
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
He does not begrudge Fisheries Minister Rick Doucet the new ferries coming to Grand Manan, White Head Island and Deer Island, the three inhabited islands in his riding of Charlotte-The Isles.
"I don't hold it against them for getting the ferries. That would be ludicrous, but I do feel that it is essential for Campobello to be treated equally," Huntjens said.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Letter to the Minister of Transportation for New Brunswick
As Chairman of the Campobello Island Health and Wellness Advisory Committee, I am writing to let you know in no uncertain terms that when it comes to mobility and access to services, good enough is no longer good enough for the residents of Campobello Island. Specifically, our Committee has completed 4 of 5 Phases of a Needs Assessment Study in conjunction with the Atlantic Health Sciences Corporation in Saint John. As you may be aware from various media reports, we are actively seeking Year Round Ferry and Governance Options for our island community. In light of the recent Federal and Provincial Infrastructure spending announcements, the publication of The Finn Report and subsequent desire for the province to amalgamate service districts, it appears as though Campobello Island remains a jurisdictional anomaly at a pivotal juncture.
Restricted mobility of people, goods and services has had a pervasive negative impact on the economy, education, employment, mental and physical well being of our residents resulting in an unnecessary threat to the viability of our community. The work of the committee over the past year has been eventful, full of promise and an excellent indication that the timing is right for the island to take greater responsibility and accountability for its citizens and its future.
A great first step on behalf or your ministry would be the Inclusion in the Fundy Isles Ferry Project . Certainly a demonstrative example of what is possible appeared a recent article in the Telegraph Journal that there certainly is money to be allocated to a ferry for those already able to drive to and from the Kingston Peninsula to Saint John without having to leave there country and clear customs twice!
A recent article regarding the Finn Report in the Telegraph Journal has provided further confirmation and encouragement of our need to be proactive in creating solutions to our service delivery and mobility challenges by indicating that Campobello, "... be separate from any other municipality because of its limited accessibility to the rest of the province." As you are likely aware, Campobello Island is perpetually petitioning for year round ferry service. Certainly, we see governance as a means of establishing a legitimate voice by which to better manage our tax dollars, administer services and enter into contracts according to the priorities of the residents. However, there are numerous initiatives currently in the works to continue to lobby our various leaders to provide the guaranteed access and mobility we are entitled too.Our committee has been fortunate enough to have the participation and support of MP Greg Thompson, MLA Tony Huntjens, Johnny St.Onge / Darren McCabe, Dr Verle Harrop (AHSC), Dawn Marie Buck (AHSC), Enterprise Charlotte, CBDC and Mt. Allison's Gwen Zwicker in assisting with the education and communication process to date in terms of Governance Options. In addition to a comprehensive island-wide survey and 7 days of community workshops, we recently held a Governance Open House providing a comprehensive overview of the various governance options and processes. As you can see from the attached Survey results link, 64% of Respondents indicated that a Government alternative to LSD was "needed or very needed" (survey results slide 29). Additionally, an unbelievable 81% of respondents indicated that a Year Round Ferry Service was "needed or very needed" (results slide 39).
I have included a list of additional reasons the year round ferry is criticle, a link to our Survey Results and additional link to an article in the Telegraph Journal for your review. We are anxious to move forward with dialogue and a feasibility study to determine what solutions would be most appropriate for Campobello at this juncture.