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Letter: Not everyone can drive to Sundre, Rocky for banking

COVID no excuse to keep Caroline bank closed

An open letter to Curtis Strange, chief executive officer of ATB Financial:

Alberta Treasury Branch was formed in 1938 to provide financial services to rural Albertans. Through the wars, the droughts, the economic downturns, booms, bust, and BSE, ATB was there for Albertans. None of the above were too tough for Albertans and ATB.

It is with great sadness that we are again writing this letter to you on behalf of the Caroline & District Chamber of Commerce and its residents.
Through the COVID-19 scenario we have experienced disappointment and frustration with ATB in Caroline.

ATB should have been the first to keep its doors open, especially in rural Alberta, where in most communities they are the only financial institution. Most of the small businesses in small communities only have the option of one bank.

ATB was closed when COVID first began. Concerns were expressed and it eventually opened. We are now back in the same situation.

Banks were deemed an essential service, but ATB decided to close the Caroline branch again. All the other businesses in small communities that were deemed essential stayed open and provided all their services while following COVID guidelines. You betrayed your valuable customers. This is poor customer service, especially during the Christmas season.

Customers have been phoning the ATB complaint line and our chamber office. These customers are being told to drive to outside communities like Rocky Mountain House or Sundre to bank. There are residents in our village that do not have the option of travelling or the knowledge of how to bank online. We want to bank in our own community! Is this some type of discrimination against rural Albertans? Are you trying to drive people out of our community? This is how it feels. If there is not a reliable bank in our community then people will not stay here.

We, at the Caroline & District Chamber of Commerce politely request that ATB in Caroline open for full service within 48 hours. This letter is being distributed to local media as well.

Our families fought hard for over 60 years to get many of the rural ATB branches opened across Alberta. We feel totally let down and inconvenienced by your actions. If it is your intention to close the rural branches please state it clearly. Your loyal customers deserve at least that. Please show us you care!

Reg Dean,

Caroline & District Chamber of Commerce