First West can pursue regulatory approval to become a federal credit union

Just when British Columbians thought the last two years have shown us everything, from a global health crisis to wildfires, we are now dealing with devastating flooding, mudslides and power outages that have significantly impacted the communities where we live, work and serve. I grew up in the Fraser Valley and have also proudly raised my family here, knowing we are so fortunate that British Columbia is the province we call home.

My heart goes out to everyone impacted. If you have been directly affected by the floods, know that First West and our regional brands—Envision Financial, Island Savings, Valley First and Enderby & District Financial—stand behind you and are here to support in any way we can.

I’m heartened by the acts of kindness that British Columbians have poured out to bring relief to those who have been impacted. British Columbians are resilient, and we’re known to pull together when the going gets tough. To help, Envision Financial and Valley First mobilized quickly to distribute a total of $123,000 for flood relief efforts. Courtesy of Envision Financial, the Red Cross, Abbotsford Community Foundation and Food Banks BC will each receive $25,000, with an additional $25,000 being allocated to the B.C. Agriculture Council to assist with recovery efforts for the Sumas Prairie agricultural community, while Valley First has provided $3,000 to the Princeton Food Bank and $20,000 to the Princeton Flood Relief Fund, established by the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan/Similkameen and the Town of Princeton. Our ability to act swiftly to support our communities in times of urgency is a credit to our focus on building our financial strength while preserving our local care and connectedness, which are core to who we are.

If you have experienced personal devastation or financial difficulty due to flooding, fires or any other hardships related to this extreme weather event, please reach out to your branch team, who are ready to help you.

Members voted YES to keep a good thing growing

The member vote results are in: 26,235 votes were cast on our special resolution to authorize First West to apply to become a federal credit union and 25,908 votes were cast on our special resolution to adopt the new Bylaws. Of the members who voted, 84.2% voted in favour of us applying to become a federal credit union and 84.1% voted in favour of us adopting the new Bylaws. Here are the final outcomes:

The special resolution to apply to become a federal credit union received 84.2% votes in favour from our members who hold Class A Membership Equity Shares and 83.5% votes in favour from our members who hold Class B Equity Shares.

The special resolution to adopt the new Bylaws received 84.2% votes in favour from our members who hold Class A Membership Equity Shares and 83.1% votes in favour from our members who hold Class B Equity Shares.

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. It also reflects the care and attention that went into ensuring this future-forming vote was carried out in a transparent, accessible, and engaging way. I’m grateful too for our dedicated employees who helped inform and engage members during the voting period.

The conversations we’ve had with members underscore the importance of our federal journey. Our members want and need us to be there for them should life or business take them outside of B.C. and they appreciate the steps we’re taking to protect and preserve our credit union in a time of disruption and change.

During the vote period, we heard members make clear the importance of focusing on our local communities as we pursue becoming federally regulated. This care is core to who we are and remains unchanged. So, in celebration of members voting YES on our special resolutions, it’s a privilege to share that we’ve decided to increase the member vote charitable giving amount significantly to a total contribution of $250,000 going to 13 charitable organizations. Next week, we’ll share the donation amounts and the charitable organizations receiving this much needed funding. This is something we feel is extra important right now because of the challenges our communities are feeling.

Affirming the democratic principles First West was founded on

I want to thank members who made the time to cast an informed vote, no matter which way they voted. Your vote affirms the democratic principles that are essential to our credit union as a values-based organization. Our members’ approval for First West to apply to become a federal credit union is an important milestone, but nothing will change overnight. With the strong member mandate to proceed, our next step is to submit a formal application to the provincial regulator, the BC Financial Services Authority, and to the federal regulator, The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, in the coming weeks. Following that, we anticipate transition to federal regulation by 2024. We’ll keep you informed of our progress along the way.

I hope you share in our pride that we are well positioned for a stronger and more sustainable future—for our members, employees and communities.






Shawn Neumann
Board Chair, First West Credit Union