Since I’ve lived in Downtown Langley, I’ve seen several banks leave the downtown core. The first bank to go was CIBC. The next to go was Coast Capital Savings. These were both several years back. Just this year, Envision Financial closed its branch in Downtown Langley. TD is now the next bank to be leaving. Willowbrook is where people will need to go to access these financial institutions. This leaves Scotiabank and Westminster Savings in the downtown core for now.
One of the things about Downtown Langley is that it has a higher than average population of seniors, many of whom have limited mobility. Walking or scootering is a primary mode of transportation. People that live around Downtown Langley, such as seniors on fixed pensions, have a lower than average income level compared to the rest of the City of Langley and Metro Vancouver.
When a bank leaves Downtown Langley, it really reduces options for people in the area with limited mobility and/or limited means.
Right now, Scotiabank and Westminster Savings are still options in the community, but if these banks leave too, people living around Downtown Langley will loose access to banking services. Without access to banking services, many people with limited means and mobile won't be able to do simple things like cash a cheque, deposit, or withdraw money.
These people may have to turn to places like cheque cashing shops that have a reputation for taking advantage of people. In the worst case, a senior cashing their pension cheque will be charged a larger fee than a bank, and keep that cash in their wallet or purse. When every penny counts, a large cheque cashing fee could be the difference between having a meal or not. Also, the risk of losing money increases when large amounts of it is carried around in cash form.
For credit unions and TD which market themselves are customer service, community-based businesses, leaving seniors out in the cold doesn’t seem to fit with their marketing messaging.
Banks are moving to Willowbrook because it is more central to a larger population, and is a regional destination for shopping. Unfortunately Willowbrook, the Langley Regional Town Centre, happens to be the least walking in Metro Vancouver. This means that even for people with the means and mobility options, going to the bank changes for a walk to a drive.
Banks originally located in Downtown Langley because it was a regional retail centre. This is no longer the case. But does this mean Downtown Langley is down and out? Not at all, but I will talk about that in a future post.