Credit union members appeal branch closures

Members of the financial institution upset over the impending closure of the Cortes Island, Alert Bay and Sointula branches

The Coastal Community Credit Union branch closures saga isn’t over yet.

Members of the financial institution upset over the impending closure of the Cortes Island, Alert Bay and Sointula branches, have filed an appeal of the board’s decision to shutter the branches July 5.

Noba Anderson, regional district director for Cortes, said legal advisor Jeff Jones, who is representing the credit union members, has submitted a letter to the Financial Institutions Commission (FICOM) to begin the appeal process but she’s not sure how effective the appeal will be.

“FICOM has no procedure in place to process an appeal; no one has even filed an appeal before,” Anderson said. “It sounds like it will be a lot of back and forth with the seven FICOM commissioners and most likely on technical grounds rather than ones of useful substance.”

Anderson said the more useful course of action seems to be submitting a new petition to the Coastal Community Credit Union.

In April, members presented the credit union with a resolution, signed by 944 people, calling on the credit union’s board to re-consider its decision to close the Cortes, Alert Bay and Sointula branches.

The credit union refused, saying the board’s decision was binding.

Then, earlier this month, Sointula resident and credit union member Bruce Burrows received a letter from the chair of the credit union board saying the board would not consider the resolution for a re-vote because the requisition was faulty.

“Our legal counsel advises that there were several defects with the requisition, and therefore, it does not comply with….the Credit Union Incorporation Act,” wrote Susanne Jakobsen, chair of the board. “We are advised that the most significant defect is that a vast majority of the signatures were not effective counterparts.

“Specifically, it is not at all clear that many of the signing members even saw a copy of the full requisition. Less than the required 300 members signed a document that included a copy of the requisition.”

Anderson said what happened was that some of the members signed the back of the requisition.

She said members will be submit a new requisition, one that calls for a member meeting and a vote on an action permitted under the Credit Union Act.

But Jakobsen hinted that no matter what the members do, the board’s decision is final.

“We are concerned that not all people who signed the requisition are aware of the specific details of the requisition and how it would require spending the credit union’s and members’ money and resources to vote on a non-binding special resolution on an issue already analyzed in-depth by the board,” Jakobsen wrote.

“Legal counsel advises that a special resolution such as the one proposed on the requisition would not be binding on directors.

Having heard and considered the concerns of our members on both sides of the issue, the board is still unanimously committed to stand by our original decision and timelines.

“The financial subsidies to these branches were very significant, and the analysis showed we simply could not find a way to get any of the three branches into a financially viable position,” Jakobsen added.