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Only ATM in Luskville, Que. set to close end of May

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As online banking becomes the primary money management tool for many, small communities across Canada have experienced the closure of their local bank branches.

Luskville, Que. -- about 40 minutes northwest of the capital -- is no exception. Once served by a Desjardins branch, the community now faces the imminent loss of its last remaining banking service, the town's lone ATM.

At Casse Croûte Rocky, Luskville's popular restaurant, owner Rocky Bigras says the days of a cash-dominated register are fading away.

"Mostly everybody pays debit and everybody pays credit card," said Bigras.

In a statement to CTV News Ottawa, Desjardins says its board of directors decided the ATM would be closed on May 20, 2024.

"The Board of Directors assessed each location based on a number of factors ranging from anticipated usage to travel and consumer habits while also taking local considerations into accounts."

Desjardins says two major findings emerged from the assessment:

- In recent years, members have changed the way they do their banking and this has changed the way they interact with Desjardins.

- Just stay competitive and keep peace with our evolving needs. We need to update our services.

Retail analyst, Bruce Winder says more than ever, people and businesses are switching to cashless transactions, by card or smart device.

"It cost a lot of money to have those ATM machines, to service the machines and it's one of those things where the minority who still use cash are finding themselves in a very difficult position," he said.

"In some way, cash is better because when businesses receive cash in hand, they avoid the payment fees that large banks and credit card companies impose on transactions, which add up over time. Having said that, cash can be expensive to handle, it can be stolen, you can drop it and lose it. You have to have certain denominations of cash and you open yourself up for robberies by people coming in and taking cash."

While some residents have petitioned Desjardins for the ATM to remain, others like Teresa Landry are indifferent. She says using an ATM that does not belong to your bank comes with costs.

"I can end up getting charged on both sides, a fee by the ATM to make a withdrawal and by my bank as well," she said. "And everywhere we can save money today. I think we need to look at it."

The closure of the local Desjardins branch five years ago marked the beginning of the end for traditional banking services in Luskville, along with other townships in the Pontiac region. Now, with the removal of the sole remaining ATM, Luskville joins the growing list of small Quebec towns left without convenient access to banking services.

Desjardins' decision to shutter dozens of ATMs in small Quebec communities over the past two years underscores a larger industry shift towards digital banking. As communities like Luskville adapt to these changes, the convenience of online banking must be balanced with the need for accessible financial services.

"Which is sad because this community needed it," said Bigras, who must travel nearly 30 minutes to make bank deposits. "This town is going to start growing and then we're going to start needing more of those around and they're just taking them away so it makes no sense."

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