Island Savings and First West Credit Union have announced that they are moving forward with next steps in their proposed merger but members must vote on the idea before it actually goes ahead.
Since it is a democratic cooperative, Island Savings members get to vote on special resolutions before the organizations can legally come together at year-end.
Voting will take place by mail-in ballot or in person at any branch of the iconic Duncan-based credit union from Nov. 5 to 12 with results announced on the Island Savings and First West websites on Nov. 14.
When the Island Savings and First West boards announced in fall 2013 they were entering discussions, First West board chair Shawn Neumann and Island Savings board chair James McKenzie noted several aspects of the arrangement including that Island Savings would keep its name, local leadership, local decision-making and community focus and protection for employees due to no layoffs as a direct result of the merger.
No branch closures are to result from the merger as First West and Island Savings have no branch overlaps.
The merged corporation will become one of the most extensive credit union networks in B.C., extending from the central and south Vancouver Island and Gulf Islands, through to the Fraser Valley, north to Kitimat and throughout the south central Interior.
Island Savings CEO Rod Dewar is buoyant about the idea.
"This is great news for Island Savings and for the 70,000 members who do business with us," he said. "With First West, we can offer Island families and businesses some of the most competitive products in the marketplace – without having to give up the local decision-making, local name and local community investment Islanders count on from us."
McKenzie said, "Our members are attuned to the economic realities around us. That’s why our credit union has been able to steer through the economic challenges of the past five years and still remain strong. We want to preserve this successful financial legacy and we can do that through this innovative partnership."
On Sept. 26 information packages were mailed to Island Savings members with special sessions to be held Oct. 14-22, with specific details on the website at iscu. com/firstwest.
First West is British Columbia’s third-largest credit union with $7.7 billion in assets under administration, more than 177,000 members and close to 1,300 employees.
It operates 39 branches throughout the province under the Envision Financial, Valley First and Enderby District Financial brands.
For more information on First West Credit Union, visit firstwestcu.ca