Locals create petition to keep CIBC in Blyth - Feb. 1, 2018
BY DENNY SCOTT
In response to the announcement that the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) Branch will close later this year, a group of concerned citizens has started a petition urging the corporation to change its mind.
The group, simply called Concerned Citizens, is spearheaded by Patty and Irene Kellins and Sharlene Bolen. Members have placed petitions at local businesses hoping to find enough support to have CIBC change its mind.
“The petitions will be located at a number of businesses including the Post Office, Stitches with a Twist, the Village Barber, the Queens Bakery and North Huron Publishing [home of The Citizen],” Irene explained.
The petition, citing the closure set for Sept. 20, will be presented at the public meeting being hosted by CIBC on April 19. The branch is identified as the only financial institution in Blyth and the petition asks citizens to explain how they will be impacted by the closure of the branch to “urge CIBC to reconsider the closure of the Blyth CIBC branch 07852.”
“We’re not looking to make things difficult for the bank,” Patty explained. “We want to focus on how this will affect the community. We want this decision to change and to go away gently.”
Irene said that the best case scenario is that the bank won’t close, but she would also consider the closure being pushed back several years a win.
The branch is very important to Blyth, Irene explained, because of the thriving downtown core and business growth at the edges of the community. Without a local bank, businesses will need to look outside of the community for everything from weekly deposits to getting change for registers.
“If you need to run out and get money from the bank, and you’re a business owner, that means you’re closed for at least 40 minutes, there and back,” Irene said.
“With no public transportation, this is a huge concern,” Patty said, with Irene adding that anyone who doesn’t have their own vehicle having to pay twice as much for taxis.
Another problem is the hours of nearby CIBC branches.
Both the Brussels and Wingham CIBC Branches, the latter of which will be the “home” location for accounts set up at the Blyth branch, are open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., which isn’t ideal for businesses which are opened similar, or longer, hours.
Aside from the petition, Irene said the group wants people to contact CIBC’s customer service and express their concerns.
Both Patty and Irene were confused by the choice made by CIBC’s corporate leaders to close the branch, especially with the growth that Blyth is experiencing.
Among the commercial boom happening at the south end of the village, the Canadian Centre for Rural Creativity and the proposed residential development at the north end of the village, which currently has a focus on amenities for senior citizens, a branch in Blyth makes sense according to Patty and Irene.
“There are seniors in the village already and the development would bring more,” Patty said. “Many senior citizens prefer to talk to someone face to face, and may not be adept at banking online or through the phone.
“It really makes me wonder if the corporation is aware of the growth in the village,” she said.
Another fact that had Irene and Patty scratching their heads was the date of the closure. Sept. 20 is one day before the Festival of Wizardry which, last year, brought more than 6,000 visitors to Blyth.
Despite the concerns, the Concerned Citizens don’t want CIBC to feel ostracized, saying they want “CIBC whole, healthy and here.”