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Coast Capital builds on 76 year Vancouver Island history with new branch opening in Courtenay

Credit union introduces new branch concept as it expands into the Comox Valley

"Coast Capital Savings' new Courtenay branch moves away from strictly transactional with a new branch concept dedicated to improving members' financial well-being."

Courtenay, B.C.: Coast Capital Savings, Canada’s largest credit union by membership, and the first full-service financial institution to offer free chequing in Canada, has opened its doors in Courtenay.

The credit union’s Courtenay branch builds on a long and rich history on Vancouver Island and brings its exceptional service and commitment to community giving to the Comox Valley through a fresh approach to banking and its innovative branch design.

It is a move that Don Coulter, Coast Capital’s President and CEO says further demonstrates Coast Capital’s commitment to helping British Columbians  improve their financial well-being, and strengthening the local communities where it operates.

“Courtenay is a vibrant community that we are really excited to be a part of,” explains Coulter. “With our expansion to Courtenay, we are deepening our strong Vancouver Island roots through an investment in the local economy, and building relationships aimed at helping even more people in our province achieve financial well-being through simple financial help.”

The Courtenay location is one of two new branches where the credit union is piloting a new branch concept focused on improving members’ financial well-being. Inspired by the health and fitness industry and the changing face of banking in Canada, the new branch, located at 382 Lerwick Road in Courtenay, moves away from the purely transactional nature of the traditional financial institution to create a space for meaningful interactions – a place where members can focus on building a healthy financial future.

“We recently opened a location in Kelowna that also boasts this innovative design and it has been very well received. The unique features, and overall experience at our re-envisioned branch will facilitate and support Coast Capital’s commitment to help our members realize and optimize their financial success,” said Coulter. “The move to this branch concept is a response to the fact that Canadians are increasingly turning to online and mobile banking for their day-to-day transactions. Our brick and mortar locations have to evolve with that reality.”

Recent data shows digital banking has had an impact on the traditional role of bank branches. In a 2014 study, 77 per cent of Canadians reported using online banking in the past year and more than half said the Internet was their primary means of banking.  More than 30 per cent had used mobile banking in the previous year and 43 per cent planned to use it in the future. The study found a corresponding drop in branch visits, with 13 per cent indicating it was their main method of banking.

Kathy McGarrigle, Coast Capital’s chief operating officer, said Courtenay was a natural fit for the credit union’s new branch concept.

“This branch design focuses on face-to-face conversations and creating spaces where we can delve into the more important financial needs our members have. From mortgages, to investments to business banking, these are the conversations that move the needle on peoples’ financial success. If they need to deposit a cheque or transfer money, we can do that for them in branch for sure but so can our digital channels. We are confident that this approach will resonate with the Courtenay community,” McGarrigle said. “Even as Canadians embrace technology for their banking transactions, there is also great value in guidance from trusted financial experts. Our first Comox Valley branch provides a comfortable and inspiring environment for this kind of member collaboration, financial education, and relationship building.”

McGarrigle said as part of the new concept, the branch manager will often be there to greet members and direct them to the expert who is best suited to meet their needs. Instead of offices, there are “Chat Rooms” created to foster interaction. The focal point of the new concept is the Help Lab, a dedicated space where Coast Capital experts can walk through detailed financial information with members and demonstrate ways that their money can be working harder and smarter for them.

“The Help Lab is the nerve centre of the branch and is equipped with resources, including a library, that enables collaborative assessment of our member’s financial health,” McGarrigle said. “With tools such as our Where You’re at Money Chat, our financial experts will work with members to visualize and establish financial health goals and metrics for success and develop a workable plan to get them there.”

Coast Capital Savings is Canada’s largest credit union by membership. A recipient of the 2015 “Outstanding Corporation” Giving Hearts Award, the credit union invested $5 million into local communities in 2015, focusing on empowering and engaging youth. Coast Capital is one of Canada's 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures™, a member of Canada's Best Managed Companies Platinum Club, and an Imagine Canada Caring Company. It has 52 branches serving its 532,000 members in the Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley, Vancouver Island and Okanagan regions of British Columbia. Product innovations include Canada's first free chequing account from a full-service financial institution. To learn more, visit


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