By Nancy Abra
Last Wednesday evening, January 15th, the Bank of Montreal held a public meeting at Thorndale Community Centre regarding the closing of the BMO branch in Thorndale. Debbie Czaniecki, BMO Regional Vice-President for Kitchener-Waterloo-Stratford, along with 15 local and regional BMO staff were in attendance.
Czaniecki said the meeting was to help Thorndale BMO customers have a better understanding with the procedure of the consolidation from the Thorndale branch, which is closing on June 5, 2020 to merge with the St. Marys BMO branch.
Czaniecki explained the resolution to close the BMO Thorndale branch was a tough decision. Over the past year or so, they were constantly monitoring the foot traffic and customer service at the Thorndale branch. An analysis was done and the decision to close the branch was announced last fall.
Czaniecki stated, “their focus is customers. By merging the Thorndale branch into the St. Marys branch, they can deliver the best service, with a wide range of personal, financial and commercial enhanced services.” She also said, “the decision was not made lightly and understands that change is difficult,” also adding that, “in a larger location is a bigger facility to offer more services to customers but they will have an ATM in Thorndale.”
Denise Ferguson, manager of St. Marys’ branch, stressed that they don’t want to lose any customers. She stated that, “they are committed to all of the Thorndale BMO customers with the transfer to the St. Marys branch with the utmost of security”. She explained that, “all of the Thorndale customers bank accounts, loans and investments will be automatically transferred to the St. Marys branch,” also adding that, “customer account numbers and any direct deposits or pre-authorized payment will continue without interruption.”
The Bank of Montreal has been part of the community of Thorndale since July 1919. The explanation of the closing didn’t seem to sit well with the approximately 70 customers and community area residents who attended the meeting. A few questions were asked about this decision, while others commented about the process on closing the branch and not consulting the customers as to what their needs were or what they wanted.
One local farmer asked, “How are we getting better customer service when we have to drive 25 minutes for our day-to-day banking?”
A few remarked about the older residents who don’t have vehicles getting to St. Marys but are in walking distance to the Thorndale branch, adding that these older people also don’t do on-line banking.
A loyal BMO customer and community resident stated at the meeting that we are encouraged to shop and do business locally, and asked “How does this help our community when you pull out of it?” A few added that “this is devasting to area customers and the community.”
When the meeting was over, a Thorndale-area customer stated, “Well that was a frustrating and upsetting exercise!”