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Heritage Credit Union and East Kootenay Community Credit Union enter into merger discussions

Credit Unions based in Castlegar and Cranbrook explore merging
Cranbrook’s East Kootenay Community Credit Union and Castlegar’s Heritage Credit Union have entered into merger discussions. Photo: Barry Coulter

Heritage Credit Union (HCU), headquartered in Castlegar, and East Kootenay Community Credit Union (EKC), headquartered in Cranbrook, have entered into merger discussions.

Both banks were part of a group of seven credit unions that were negotiating a major merger that fell apart in July 2021.

The boards of directors for the credit unions say that they aim to create a new credit union that will deliver enhanced benefits to their respective members, employees and communities.

“Partnering with Heritage Credit Union will potentially create a better, stronger credit union and is an exciting opportunity for our respective members and employees,” said Lynnette Wray, chair of the board at EKC. “Our boards and management teams know we must grow and evolve in order to compete, to take advantage of changing technology, and to better serve our members and employees. We believe a merger between HCU and EKC may be how together, we begin to achieve that goal.”

In a statement issued June 9, the credit unions emphasized that additional analysis and a thorough consultation will take place.

“Any merger we consider must be in everyone’s best interests,” stated Joleen Kinakin, board chair at HCU. “EKC and HCU are committed to consulting with our members and employees on this important effort so their voices are heard. The credit union we create must build on our respective legacies while fueling the potential of our members, employees and the communities we serve.”

HCU has 7,015 members, 32 employees and three branches (Castlegar, West Boundary and Slocan Valley) and has $256 million in assets under administration.

EKC has 10,936 members, 48 employees and four branches (Cranbrook, Elkford, Fernie and Sparwood), and currently has $456 million in assets under administration.

The credit unions have entered a memorandum of understanding and are developing a comprehensive business case for the new, combined credit union.

Other steps in the merger discussions include a thorough due diligence process, engagement and consultation with members and employees, and obtaining regulatory consent. Progress with these steps will determine the timeline of a merger.

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