Kootenay Savings is one of seven credit unions exploring amalgamation.

Major move by area credit unions

Columbia Valley, Creston, East Kootenay, Grand Forks, Heritage, Kootenay and Nelson exploring business case for amalgamation

Seven credit unions in the Kootenay, Boundary and Columbia Valley are exploring the benefits of amalgamating and forming a single credit union. The new credit union would have assets of $2.2 billion, 24 branches and serve 82,000 members.

The seven partners launched discussions one year ago to respond to the question, “Would our members, employees and communities be better off if we were to combine our resources, talents and opportunities?”

Moving from a conceptual design that was finalized in August, the seven credit unions have now embarked on a formal business case that is expected to be completed this fall. If the business case is recommended by the Boards, the new credit union will move ahead in 2018 subject to membership and regulatory approvals.

It is far from a done deal, explained Kootenay Savings CEO Brent Tremblay.

“This is an exploration and totally dependent on the development of a business case,” he said. “The boards of the seven credit unions agreed to explore the possibility.”

The possible amalgamation would mean members would have access to their credit union all across the region.

“The business case will look at what additional products, and services we could provide. Any change will be determined in the business plan, but if this is not healthy for our employees, members and communities, it won’t proceed.”

With assets on its own of over $1 billion, Kootenay Savings would be bringing half the assets to the deal, but Tremblay says all seven credit unions would be coming in as equal partners. He also said there would be no job loss at the corporate level if amalgamation occurs.

“Everyone would be offered employment,” he said.

The business plan is likely to be completed by the end of this year, and a vote by the boards would occur in the spring of 2018 should it all proceed.

“We believe there is significant opportunity to be gained by pooling our resources,” Tremblay said. “But the business case will prove that out.”

The seven credit unions involved in the discussions are the Columbia Valley Credit Union in Golden, the Creston and District Credit Union in Creston, the East Kootenay Community Credit Union in Cranbrook, Elkford, Fernie and Sparwood, the Grand Forks Credit Union in Grand Forks, the Heritage Credit Union with three branches in Castlegar, Slocan Valley and West Boundary, the Nelson and District Credit Union in Nelson, Rosalind and east shore of Kootenay Lake, and the Kootenay Savings Credit Union with 11 branches in the East and West Kootenay.

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