THE on-again, off-again merger proposal between the Assiniboine and Access credit unions is back on again.
Four months after Access Credit Union members failed to approve the deal — they were 25 votes of short of the minimum two-thirds required — an outcry from its members for a second chance has put it back in play.
Nearly 1,000 members signed a petition to hold a special meeting to revisit the proposal — nearly double the minimum required — in a vote that will be held Sept. 16 at eight still-to-be-determined locations in southern Manitoba.
It’s not exactly the same deal — a provincial regulator turned down that request — but Darryl Loewen, chairman of Access’s board, believes the improvements to this version make it better.
The alterations include a strong commitment to local decision-making for corporate social giving, sponsorship and grants.
“We went back to the table with Assiniboine, sought further legal advice, consulted with regulators and put together a new agreement,” he said.
In April, Assiniboine members voted 95 per cent in favour of the proposed merger — which would have created the largest credit union in the province — but Access members fell short at 63.5 per cent.
It’s not clear what impact the social media postings of one Access member had on the vote, but it’s certainly possible it made a difference.
Don Cruickshank disagreed with Assiniboine’s long-standing support of the LGBT community and hoped the merger would be voted down.
Cruickshank said he hasn’t decided if he would be active in the run-up to the next vote.
“I think I’ve made my views known. I’ll see how it goes,” he said.
Loewen said support by Assiniboine will undoubtedly be a conversation topic this time around, but Access has received a “significant body of member feedback” from others with more liberal views.
“They want to change the perception (that Access members are intolerant) and not let that be representative of the region,” he said.
Vera Goussaert, chairwoman of Assiniboine’s board, said the reasons for the merger that were there in the spring are still in place today.
“We believe that it will be good for our financial future, for employees, our members and our community,” she said.
Goussaert is confident Assiniboine’s members will once again vote strongly in favour of the merger at a meeting Sept. 21 at the RBC Convention Centre.
Assiniboine has more than $4 billion in assets spread across 112,000 members at 22 branches, all but two of which are in Winnipeg. It also has one branch in each of Gillam and Thompson.
Access has $2 billion in assets, 42,000 members and 17 branches in communities such as Altona, Carman, Miami, Oak Bluff, Vita and Winkler.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 19, 2015 B6