LANGLEY, B.C. – Members of First West Credit Union have voted in favour of First West applying to become a federal credit union. Of the 26,235 votes cast on the special resolution to authorize First West to apply to become a federal credit union, 84.2% of votes were cast in favour from members who hold Class A Membership Equity Shares and 83.5% votes were in favour from members who hold Class B Equity Shares. The threshold for the special resolution to pass was two thirds in favour in both share classes.
“I’m encouraged by the fact that many members took time to learn about this opportunity, to carefully consider the issues and then vote—this speaks volumes about the strength of our cooperative and the power of member democracy,” says Shawn Neumann, Chair of First West’s board of directors. “This is a significant milestone for our credit union and one that sets us on the path to a stronger and more secure future for our local brands Envision Financial, Valley First, Island Savings and Enderby & District Financial.”
This positive vote outcome follows a member vote that occurred between November 1 – November 21 and an extensive member education period earlier this fall that involved providing members with a comprehensive information package and a series of more than 250 member events that took place both virtually and in-person across First West’s 46 branches.
“Our members told us loud and clear during this process that our community involvement and local decision making is what sets us apart and is something they never want to see us lose. Building a stronger and more sustainable future as a federal credit union will only reinforce our commitment to our members, employees and communities,” says Launi Skinner, CEO of First West Credit Union. “As our communities have battled through several crises lately, from the pandemic to the recent flooding, we were able to see first-hand why it’s so important for us to have a strong and growing organization into the future—to continue to support our neighbours when they need it most.”
For every vote cast, First West made a donation to charitable organizations in its trade areas. This amount totals $250,000 and will be distributed to 13 organizations.
With a strong member mandate to proceed, First West will submit a formal application to the provincial regulator, the BC Financial Services Authority and the federal regulator, The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions. First West anticipates the transition to federal regulation to be completed by 2024.
Historically, credit unions in Canada were restricted to operating within their province. In 2012, the federal government introduced legislation that enabled credit unions to operate outside their provincial boundaries by continuing as a federal credit union.