This week RBC customers in Lake Cowichan found out their branch would be closing later this year.
With the next closest RBC branch in Duncan, many residents are feeling upset.
“It’s going to be devastating for our community. We have an awful lot of seniors here. We have a lot of disabled here,” said Laurel Roseland, an RBC customer and Mesachie Lake resident.
“Terrible. It’s the wrong thing [to do]. I mean the community is growing,” said Doug Parker, a Lake Cowichan resident. “They expect you to drive to Duncan. It’s 30 kilometres in, 30 kilometres out.”
Lake Cowichan’s Mayor, Bob Day, says he’s concerned for the town’s seniors.
“The older generation that doesn’t embrace technology and is intimidated by it and really looks forward to their day-to-day banking needs to be handled physically person to person,” said Day.
Branch closures, however, are becoming more common.
TD Canada Trust is closing its VicWest branch and Island Savings closed its Pender Island and Ladysmith locations last September.
The head of UVIC’s Gustavson School of Business says branch closures shouldn’t come as a surprise.
“…because it’s part of a long-term trend and if anything the pandemic has accelerated that. Bank branches just don’t make the same economic sense for the banks that they used to and they’re not as attractive for customers either,” said Dr. Saul Klein, the school’s Dean.
A report last month suggested bank branches in the U.S. would be extinct by 2034. Canada may be headed in a similar direction.
“Certainly, the retail branch network that we see today will be significantly reduced over the next decade or two,” said Klein.
In a statement to CHEK News, RBC said “Branches remain a very important part of RBC’s presence in Canada. At the same time, our branch network continues to change and evolve as we seek to serve our clients where and how they want to bank.”
RBC says its four Lake Cowichan employees will either continue working at home or be transferred to other branches.
Lake Cowichan still has an Island Savings Credit Union location.