N.L.’s Fogo Island residents lost their only bank in August. Now they’re struggling to attract a new one | CBC News

Fogo Island has been without a bank since August, and residents are pushing for another. (Patrick Morell/CBC)

Fogo Island has been without a bank since August and residents are clamouring for a new financial institution to open so they can avoid a ferry ride and a 130-kilometre drive to Gander for service.

Resident John Hearn, an accountant, said the lack of an open branch means a full day of travel just to do some basic banking.

“It has been difficult for businesses especially and our elderly population on the island,” he said. “There’s still a dependency on cash here on the island. Some businesses are cash only.”

Hearn was deputy mayor of Fogo Island when Scotiabank announced it was folding the branch, as well as branches in Arnold’s Cove and Glovertown, into a neighbouring one. He has been spearheading the effort to attract another financial institution to the island ever since. 

Hearn, who has his sights set on the Atlantic Edge Credit Union, circulated a survey among residents to find out if people are willing to switch their accounts from Scotiabank to a new institution. He said the results of the survey will be reviewed by the credit union.

“The support has been from everyone on the island,” Hearn said. 

“There’s a lot of different groups looking to enhance services on the island, and without a financial institution it has had a major impact.”

Building secured for new company

Bill Miller, who owns a small convenience and grocery store on the island, said he has lost customers because of the lack of a bank.

“When they have to leave the island to go to Gander or the Bank of Nova Scotia in Lewisporte … they go to the different big supermarkets in around — Walmart and whatnot,” Miller said Tuesday.

“When they come back they come back fully loaded with groceries and whatever they need.”

Justin Hearn is heading the effort to bring another financial institution to Fogo Island. (CBC)

Miller said everyone is frustrated by having leave just to complete simple banking. The island’s population is aging, he said, and not everyone is using online banking. 

“A large percentage of the population here on the island wants to see even a credit union. They’d be very happy,” he said.

Hearn said the town has a building the credit union could use to set up shop.

“When Scotiabank made their announcement clear and their intentions clear we worked to secure the real estate. The building they’re in now, we were able to secure that as a donation to the town of Fogo Island,” said Hearn.

“They understood the impact and how they’re leaving us without these services.”

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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