Ag society to run ATB agency

An agricultural society in northern Alberta is the owner of a local ATB Financial agency, ensuring community members can still access vital banking services.

The Bonanza and District Agricultural Society took over ownership July 2 after the former bank agency called it quits.

“It’s been such a staple here in Bonanza that we didn’t want to see it go,” said Meagan Lundquist, president of the ag society. “There really is a need for it in the community, and I think the longevity will be good.”

But before the ag society got involved, there was a sense that Bonanza would lose the local banking agency for good.

ATB had announced in December 2018 that the agency would close June 28 unless someone stepped forward. It had been running since 1991.

“It was not good when people thought it was closing. They felt like they were in the hole,” Lundquist said. “They wanted to see what could be done to make it stay.”

She said if the branch closed, customers would have to drive 30 to 50 minutes east or west to access the nearest bank.

However, the ag society stepped forward and reached a deal with ATB.

“We wanted to keep it in the community to help serve them better,” Lundquist said. “I want them to feel we are there for them.”

Nizar Abouchami, vice-president of the Alberta north market with ATB, said he was elated when the ag society stepped forward.

“It’s a very unique arrangement and speaks to the ag society’s commitment to the community, providing them with financial services,” he said. “I would say certainly in Alberta, this is very unique.”

He said he hopes the new arrangement continues to support community members, given they are in an underserved market.

“At the same time, this is a great opportunity for ag societies to be a key player and entrepreneur in their communities and for their community’s economy,” he said.

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