By Mike Anderson

Scotiabank has announced it will close its Sutton branch and move customers to its Keswick branch by April 18, 2024.

According to a letter sent to its Sutton branch customers, dated October 31, the bank will transfer accounts automatically to the Keswick branch.

“There will be no interruption in service. You will have access to your accounts at all times, with no changes in your account numbers,” the letter, signed by Rahim Premji, Scotiabank’s District Vice President, reads.

The Post tried to contact Premji, but prior to publication received no response.

However, a Scotiabank spokesperson, in an email statement, cited changing customer preferences as the main reason for the closure.

“After careful consideration we have made the difficult decision to consolidate a series of branches across various markets in Canada,” Daniela Da Silva told the Post.
“With customer preferences changing, and more day-to-day banking being done digitally, we are continuing to evolve how we serve our customers and invest in areas that make it easier for our customers to bank with us from wherever they are.”

The decision to close branches follows Scotiabank’s recent corporate announcement that it will cut three per cent of its global workforce, despite earning more than $10 billion in profits in 2022.

The closure ends the bank’s 120 year presence on High St.

Scotiabank, formerly the Bank of Nova Scotia, has operated a branch in Sutton since 1914, after amalgamating with the Metropolitan Bank, which opened on March 20, 1903, according to Paul Brady, president of the Georgina Historical Society.

The bank was originally located across the street at 115 High St, before moving to the current location, 114 High St, in the 70s.

Original Bank of Nova Scotia

“We have the loss of 120 years of history in Sutton, and yet another vacant store, not to mention the loss of personal banking for many people who don’t have the capability to do electronic banking,” Brady said.

“It’s too bad that these institutions put profits before convenience for their, in many cases, life-long customers.”

Steve Jacobson, chair of Health Georgina, says the decision unfairly impacts seniors who don’t bank online and find it difficult to travel to Keswick to do in-person banking.

“The seniors up here don’t have cell phones. They don’t have computers. They don’t have iPads, and they don’t have internet. They’re not doing online banking. But the bank doesn’t seem to care,” he said.

According to Jacobson, who spoke to Premji, the bank is citing a decline in in-person banking for the closure.

“Not enough foot traffic. That’s the reason they gave me. But I don’t see it. Because every time I’m in there, they’re packed.”

Jacobson also points out the bank is ignoring the potential demand for banking services from three nearby subdivisions.

“We’re looking at growth happening in Sutton. I told them you’re looking at 1,500 houses being built just up the street,” he said.

“But they don’t seem to care. They just look at the nearness of the other branch and say, okay, people can travel.”

“The problem is we’re all aging up here. And, fortunately, I have a car, but the time will come when I don’t have a car.”

Ken Clodd, 75, is in the same boat. While he can still drive to Keswick, he says he’s worried that it may not always be the case.

“We don’t have a computer, my wife and I are going to have to drive to Keswick once a month now to pay our bills,” he said. “I’m 75 and in a few years, If I can’t drive, I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

Clodd, like many residents in Sutton, has a long association with the bank and is upset about the closure.

He’s been a Scotiabank customer for 64 years, opening his first bank account at the branch at age of 11, with earnings from delivering newspapers, cutting lawns and caddying at the Briars.

Clodd contacted both MPP Caroline Mulroney’s and MP Scot Davidson’s constituency offices but was told there wasn’t much they could do.

“The guy at Mulroney’s office said all you got to do is change banks. Well, with a Visa card, debit card, line of credit and whole pile of stuff like that, it’s going to be a big headache to change everything,” he said.

“The banks care more about their shareholders than they do their clients.”

Local businesses will also be impacted by the closure. Business owners will now have to travel, more than 20 minutes each way, to Keswick to make daily cash deposits.

“It’s going to put a lot of stress on me,” said Hamid Sharifi, owner of EM Convenience in Jackson’s Point.

The added travel time is a major inconvenience and will add to his already long work day, he said.

Still, Sharifi remains hopeful that the bank may change its mind and he’s gathering signatures for a petition.

“A petition always works,” he said. “If they close they are going to lose customers.”

“They have to understand that a lot of people rely on that bank.”

Jacobson agrees. He says if people want to save the branch, they need to make some noise.

“If we don’t stand up and sign a petition in front of the bank and say ‘save our branch!’ Guess what? We’re not going to he heard.”