Clients of the Bank of Montreal (BMO) in Huntingdon may be shocked to learn the branch location will be closing on April 26, 2024. Signs announcing the change were posted inside the bank on Friday, September 16.
Photos of the sign began to circulate over the weekend on social media, and a steady stream of clients entered the bank Monday morning with questions about the closure. Most left holding a piece of paper issued by the bank requesting their comments. Few were pleased with the news.
“We thank you for your loyalty. We have enjoyed being part of this community,” reads the sign, which indicates the branch will be transferred to the nearest location in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield.
The bank has been serving Huntingdon residents and those from surrounding municipalities for over a century. Currently there are four employees at the branch, and all are expected be transferred to another location.
“We routinely evaluate all our operations, including our branches, to ensure we are well-equipped to cater to changing customer needs,” says Jeff Roman, the director of Enterprise Media Relations with BMO. In an email, he says the bank will “ensure clients are able to transition smoothly” to the Valleyfield branch.
A letter signed by regional vice-president Katy De Grandpre has also been sent to area BMO clients. It confirms that bank accounts, loans, and investments will automatically be transferred to the new branch, while account numbers and cheques will remain the same for the time being. Safety deposit boxes at the Huntingdon branch will have to be closed by March 22.
Huntingdon mayor André Brunette says requests for more information about the closure were met with extremely vague responses. He questions the logic of closing the branch when the town’s population is booming. “Many businesses are also under construction, and many are predicted to come in the next few years,” he says. “I simply don’t understand BMO’s decision,” he laments.
For Wendy Barrett-Stuart, who has been a client of the Huntingdon BMO for 35 years, the decision to close the branch represents a big blow to the town. “It has been a cornerstone of the community’s financial history for many years,” she says. “It is hard to think of another business that could fill that building,” she continues, suggesting she hopes the imposing structure will not slip into disrepair like the O’Connor Building.
Barret-Stuart says she understands this is a “business decision,” but suggests it may be short-sighted. She points out that while many transactions are now done online, there are still many that need to be done in person, and Valleyfield “is not exactly around the corner.” She suggests the closure will likely impact seniors, who may still prefer to bank in person, and small business owners the most.
“There are businesses in the area that need to get change and make deposits throughout the week,” she explains, noting she has already spoken with several who are now considering changing banks. For her part, Barret-Stuart says she will move her business to one of the remaining banks in Huntingdon.
A public meeting has been organized on November 21 for clients to discuss the closure of the branch and the move to Valleyfield. The meeting will take place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Huntingdon Legion.