Two credit unions EKC and Heritage Credit Union will merge, effective January 1, 2023 – and will be operating under the legal name of “StellerVista Credit Union.” (Barry Coulter photo)

East Kootenay Community and Heritage Credit Union merger approved by members

The merger of East Kootenay Community Credit Union (EKC) and Heritage Credit Union announced this week that a merger of the two institution will go ahead, after a vote by members of both.

The member-elected boards of both EKC and Heritage Credit Union announced this week that all of the special resolutions presented to members during November and December of this year, have been passed with the overwhelming support of members at both credit unions.

With multiple motions passed, the two credit unions will merge, effective January 1, 2023 – and will be operating under the legal name of “StellerVista Credit Union.”

Heritage Credit Union has branches in Castlegar, Slocan Park, and Greenwood. East Kootenay Credit Union is headquartered in Cranbrook.

“While both Boards supported this merger unanimously, and our B.C. regulator gave us consent to merge, it’s the support of the members that matters most,” says Joleen Kinakin, Board Chair at Heritage Credit Union in a press release. “That’s a significant benefit of belonging to a credit union — you really do get a choice and that choice is made right here, not in some far away corporate tower.”

Lynnette Wray, Board Chair at EKC echoes Joleen’s enthusiasm. “We have been bringing this vision to life for a long time now, and to know that our members support the move forward and are with us in the journey to keep local banking local … well, this is something we are very pleased to see”.

The merger will bring together seven rural B.C. communities in the Kootenay and Boundary regions, including: Greenwood, Castlegar, Slocan Park, Cranbrook, Fernie, Sparwood, and Elkford.

“We see the connection between our communities, and in these rural areas, how interdependent we all are on one another,” said Jody Burk, CEO at EKC. “Our mission is to ensure that our communities not only keep what they have built, but that we can grow and improve it for generations to come.”

While the merger is official as of the new year, the plan is to ease into the changes that will occur to ensure all staff and members have a reasonable and fair period of adjustment.

“Our staff and our members deserve a well-conceived, well-communicated process of reasonable change,” said Doug Eveneshen, CEO at Heritage. “First up is to reconfirm that there will be no job losses due to this merger. What’s more, our goal is to grow, to become the first choice of local families, business owners and young people moving into the region. That starts in 2023.”