Letters to the Editor: November 2

Closure of Cranbrook's HSBC branch; Operation Legacy

Closure of Cranbrook’s HSBC branch

In a letter dated September 1, 2016, account holders at the Cranbrook Branch of the HSBC Bank were informed of the closure of this branch on January 20, 2017. An information meeting was to be held on September 29, 2016, 6 p.m. at the Branch. I attended that meeting as did numerous account holders. We were informed of the following by a senior representative of the Bank and Bank Managers from other branches including Kelowna.

The President of HSBC made the decision to close this branch and six others in Canada due to decline of walk-in business at the branches. This decline was due to on-line banking. The choices given to the approximately 3,500 account holders were 1) online banking, 2) telephone banking, 3) the use of an Exchange ATM for cash only transactions, or 4) If one did not want to stay with HSBC to find another bank, or 5) stay with the HSBC and have account moved to the new HSBC Kelowna Branch.

Seven staff jobs would be eliminated.

A good many questions were fielded by account holders — one question was: if branch attendance was required or needed then what? The response was: phone the Kelowna Branch. Another question: Can you not keep the ATM here? A simple No response was given.

One person said they would move their account to Lethbridge as that was only a three-hour drive and not a seven-hour drive over three mountain passes to get to Kelowna.

When asked how legal banking documents could be signed, the response was internet. It was pointed out that a lot of seniors, disabled and others do not have computers or smart phones. The response was that a survey indicated that seniors were the fastest growing segment to be going online. That response was met with negativity. It was pointed out who was in attendance at this information session — it was not young people, but middle aged people and seniors. It must be pointed out that this population segment, also known as the baby boomers, are the majority population.

It was stated that other banks were also going the route of the HSBC.

What was considerably annoying was the repetitive same response by the senior bank representative to questions asked. There is nothing worse than a talking head.

People were obviously very distraught, upset and angry with this HSBC decision with some walking out of the meeting.

It was finally admitted that HSBC’s decision to closes branches was that HSBC only wanted to be established in large urban centers thus the opening of the new branch, the second for Kelowna. HSBC owns the building on Baker Street which has been listed for sale and the only one owned by HSBC in Canada.

What is, is — but the disruption for the 3,500 account holders, the loss of jobs and the Kelowna connection is very disturbing for our City. This is not the first for job loss in Cranbrook and job gain for the Okanagan. If any Cranbrook media, Cranbrook City councillor or Chamber of Commerce person attended this meeting they did not identity as such.

HSBC, originally the Bank of B.C., then the Hong Kong Bank of Canada has been located here for nearly forty years and was a mainstay to the downtown core, contributed to the tax base, employment and social activities in the City.

Thank you to the Cranbrook HSBC staff for your customer assistance during this closure, knowing full well that your employment is no longer required. You have been and are appreciated. One might read this and say that there are other banks in Cranbrook. Yes, that is factual but is your bank the next to close due to the fast moving digital age and/or for not being a large urban populated city?

Pat Goodman/Cranbrook

Operation Legacy

I am proud to be part of Operation Legacy, in which members and graduates of The War Amps Child Amputee (CHAMP) Program pass on the Remembrance message to the younger generation. As Remembrance Day is fast approaching, I would like to pay special tribute to all men and women who have served in Canada’s military, and especially those who lost a limb or limbs in war.

I was born as a left arm, below the elbow amputee, and have learned to overcome this challenge thanks to programs put in place by amputee veterans of The War Amps.

I am thankful for war amputee veterans, as without them and the sacrifices they made for us, the War Amps would not exist as it does today. The War Amps has greatly impacted who I am and holds a very special place in my heart. Without their endless support, I would not be as comfortable with my amputation, nor as confident about who I am as a person. I will always greatly appreciate the way war amputees united amputees after the war and came together to create my wonderful War Amps family.

On Remembrance Day, please take a moment to remember those who have and continue to serve. We commemorate their lives and share their stories so that their sacrifices will never be forgotten.

Kendra Blakely, 20/Revelstoke