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'Shame on them': last bank in Louisbourg, N.S., slated to close

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The Royal Bank of Canada has been the only place to bank in Louisbourg, N.S., for many years. But now, the company says it is closing the branch on Sept. 22.

“We lost our school and that hurt. If we lose our bank, I don’t know where we go from here,” said long-time resident Ellen Cross.

The reason for the closure is there is not enough foot traffic, said Jenna Lahey, CEO of the Cape Breton Regional Chamber of Commerce.

While the number of people using the bank has declined over the years, she's not in favour of the company pulling out.

“We also have a huge number of tourists that travel to Louisbourg on a daily basis and now they’re not going to be able to get money out of a bank machine,” said Lahey.

“We’re going to have to have a sign that says, ‘last chance to stop for cash,’ at some point.”

Lahey, who is from Louisbourg, says the town is finally making a comeback after the closure of the ground fishery, with new families moving in and businesses starting up.

Now, she says this is another thing standing in its way.

“We’re growing," said Lahey. "We have a massive project that has developed down on the waterfront and we’ve been working really hard to get things back up to where they had been before."

“It’s one more barrier we have to overcome in order to grow our town to where it should be.”

The nearest RBC to Louisbourg is in Sydney, more than a 30-minute drive away.

RBC says it is looking at ways to assist in-branch users — especially seniors — through the transition.

A public meeting is set for April 17 to tell the public of the bank's decision and to answer questions.

Cross feels plans to shut down the bank have been in the works for some time.

“For the last two years they've been asking us to do online banking,” said Cross. “Every time we go into the branch it's, ‘have you done online banking, do you know how to do it?’”

“They did that so they could close this bank, which I think is shameful, shame on them.”

Lahey says there will be no jobs lost with the closure and current employees have the option to work at another branch.

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