Residents of Fogo Island in NL lost their only sofa in August. Now they are struggling to put on a new one | TBEN news


Fogo Island has been without a bank since August and residents are pushing for a new one. (Patrick Morell/TBEN)

Fogo Island has been unbanked since August and residents are pushing for the opening of a new financial institution so they can avoid a ferry ride and a 80-mile drive to Gander for maintenance.

Resident John Hearn, an accountant, said the lack of an open branch means traveling all day to do some basic banking.

“It was especially difficult for businesses and our older population on the island,” he said. “There is still a reliance on cash here on the island. Some businesses only work with cash.”

Hearn was deputy mayor of Fogo Island when Scotiabank announced that the branch, as well as branches in Arnold’s Cove and Glovertown, would be folded into a neighboring branch. He has since led efforts to attract another financial institution to the island.

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

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

“There are many different groups that want to improve services on the island, and without a financial institution this has made a big impact.”

Building secured for new business

Bill Miller, owner of a small convenience store and grocery store on the island, says he has lost customers due to the lack of a bank.

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

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

Justin Hearn is leading the effort to bring another financial institution to Fogo Island. (TBEN)

Miller said everyone is frustrated with just having time off to complete simple banking. The island’s population is aging, he said, and not everyone uses online banking.

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

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

“Once Scotiabank made their announcement and their intentions clear, we worked to secure the property. We were able to secure the building they are in now as a donation to the City of Fogo Island,” said Hearn.

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

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