Quebec Small-Town Mayors Upset Over Plans by Desjardins to Close ATMs

March 1, 2018 Updated: March 1, 2018

MONTREAL—Some small-town mayors in Quebec are warning that a decision by the Desjardins credit union to shut down automated teller machines in several communities will have a devastating impact.

Denis Legare, the mayor of Notre-Dame-de-la Salette, says there will be no cash available in the western Quebec municipality when the town’s ATM is removed in mid-August.

“Cutting the cash flow and asking our merchants to drive 24 kilometres [return] every night to do their nightly deposits [in another town] is going to kill the municipality,” he said.

Legare added the town would like to stay with Desjardins, but that he’s already approached two banks about installing an ATM.

“Once a small town loses its caisse populaire (credit union) and its church, there’s nothing there,” he said. “You might as well close the door behind you and leave.”

Legare said a petition is circulating calling for a meeting to discuss the decision to yank the ATM and added a movement has begun throughout the province to try to get Desjardins to change its mind.

At least half a dozen communities in the province are facing the prospect of losing their ATM.

Louis-Georges Simard, the mayor of Riviere-Ouelle, a town in the Lower St. Lawrence region, says the banking machine in his town will be pulled out March 5. He said that will have a big impact on many seniors in the community.

He said while he understands technological change, Desjardins is moving too fast and he’s asking for a three-month moratorium.

“I have no problem with the fact that, in five or 10 years, there won’t be any banking machines,” he said. “But I think Desjardins is pushing too hard on the accelerator.”

Desjardins spokesman Marc Villeneuve noted that the company is seeing a reduction in the use of automated teller machines, as people turn to online banking.

“Today, it’s less than seven percent of our transactions that are made at banking machines,” he said.

From The Canadian Press