Banking Facility Closure Looms Over Ignace
Ignace, Ont. – The town of Ignace, nestled in Northwestern Ontario, is racing against time to convince Alterna Savings not to shutter its only banking facility. This impending closure has ignited concerns among residents and town officials, who are now mobilizing to find solutions.
Ignace received a startling notification that the Alterna Credit Union plans to close its doors on September 15. This development coincides with a period of municipal restructuring involving the mayor and some council members. Jake Pastore, President of Summit PCG, has stepped in to assist the town in navigating not only the financial challenges but also addressing pressing issues related to nuclear waste management.
Alterna Suggests Alternative Options, but Concerns Persist
Alterna Savings has suggested that Ignace residents, including business operators, and local residents, make a 105-kilometer journey to Dryden for their banking needs or turn to online banking. However, for many in the community, this proposal is fraught with impracticality. Ignace has a significant senior population, many of whom lack access to computer technology and face mobility challenges.
“I think there’s this potential to look at inviting other banking institutions into the community… or mitigating the impact with ATM machines,” Pastore commented. “Is there a potential for part-time work where they could utilize an office and come into town a few days a week to see clients?”
Seniors and Local Businesses Bear the Brunt
Chicki Pesola, President of the Ignace Silver Tops Seniors Centre, expressed deep concern about the closure’s impact on the community. She highlighted that many local financial dealings, such as fundraising events and farmers’ markets, rely on cash transactions. “A half-day’s travel to spend 15 minutes to safely deposit money seems absurd, yet necessary. Highway 17 between Ignace and Dryden is notoriously unsafe, especially in winter,” Pesola remarked.
With only one grocery store and one clothing store in the community, Pesola believes that residents will inevitably make additional purchases while traveling to do their banking, adding to their expenses.
Mayor Kim Baigrie affirmed her commitment to securing continued banking access for Ignace residents. “We are examining and considering all of our options to convince Alterna that this community is moving forward in a very progressive and positive direction for both future investment and population growth,” Baigrie said. “Council is adamant that they need to continue to advocate for their local citizens. We are attempting to place a variety of incentives in front of Alterna to convince them that we are serious about having them reconsider their decision to close the local branch office. This move will seriously impede our ability to offer Ignace as a great location to locate businesses and future economic development opportunities.”
As the community grapples with the imminent closure, residents, local officials, and business leaders are joining forces to explore alternative solutions and persuade Alterna Savings to reconsider its decision. Ignace’s future economic prospects and the well-being of its residents hang in the balance.