“I see First West becoming federally regulated as a natural progression. As the credit union has grown it has become more sophisticated, providing ever-better products and services to members – significantly benefitting those of us who bank with Island Savings. Becoming a federal credit union would allow First West to grow with members’ needs, which are not always restricted to British Columbia. Modern family situations, estate considerations and investment opportunities often take members outside the province. A federally-regulated First West can continue to serve all of my needs, and that’s incredibly compelling to me as a member.
“Becoming federally-regulated would place First West within Canada’s largest and most advanced regulatory framework, thereby creating increased security and protecting members’ interests. At the same time, the First West model – where local divisions like Island Savings maintain their names, employees and local focus – is very well suited to federal regulation because it ensures that the credit union can make decisions locally while enjoying the benefits of scale. This approach has already proven successful. It has enabled Island Savings to benefit from numerous advantages as a division of First West including improved access to capital, expanded ability to meet members’ growing needs and increased community giving on Vancouver Island and the Southern Gulf Islands. I am excited to see how Island Savings will continue to benefit if First West becomes federally regulated, and I am most certainly voting yes.”
Rod Dewar | Former CEO, Island Savings
“I will be voting in favour of the move to federal status for First West. In arriving at this point I reflected extensively on the path that First West took to arrive at this point. Many of my thoughts drifted back to the mid 1990s, when we at Delta Credit Union began exploring the alternate paths that were available for us to keep moving forward. That led to the creation of Envision Credit Union in partnership with First Heritage and then the creation of First West as the umbrella for Valley First, Enderby & District Financial and Island Savings. In many respects there was need for courage and vision. Not always was the journey smooth. But we did arrive at this point where we now must take another important step forward.
“I am reminded of the saying, ‘From small acorns mighty oak trees grow.’ Yes, we now have a mighty oak (which came from small acorns) that must now grow to the next level. Always forward with care and wisdom. We live in an environment where we must keep moving forward. To pause is not an option. In moving forward we will be guided by our co-operative principles and build on the foundations that are in place. I have confidence that this will indeed be the case.”
Peter Podovinikoff | Former President, Envision Financial
“Microsoft and First West Credit Union have a long-standing relationship. It is incredible to see their committed leadership when it comes to empowering their members and employees with highly secure, industry-leading technology solutions. Becoming a federally regulated credit union will unlock new and exciting opportunities for First West to be better prepared to meet the evolving data and digital needs of the communities it serves.”
Kevin Peesker | President, Microsoft Canada
WATCH: Let's keep a good thing growing for members | Otter Co-op
Otter Co-op is a large and profitable member-owned organization that is a part of the Co-operative Retailing System. They operate several different business lines including gas bars, grocery stores, pharmacies, bulk fuel, cattle/poultry feed, liquor stores and a brewery.
Earlier this year, Otter was looking for a financing partner to help them with an upcoming acquisition. Naturally, they first turned to their local credit union who had been a trusted partner to them for many years, but unfortunately due to the size and sophistication of the deal, their existing credit union was too small to help them.
When it was looking like they may have to turn to a bank, they were introduced to Envision Financial and uncovered we had the financial strength, resources and expertise to handle an acquisition of this size— a deal which would end up being the largest in First West Credit Union history. Not only that, but they would be able to continue working with a local financial co-operative that shares the same values and community commitment they do.
“For many years Island Savings and First West Credit Union have been supporting Loaves and Fishes Food Bank in sourcing and distributing an abundance of food for people in need. Not only do their employees regularly volunteer, so far they have raised over $50,000 for our operations. First West’s efforts to build a stronger and more sustainable future by becoming a federally regulated credit union will help to ensure their support for our organization and others like us continues for years to come.”
Peter Sinclair | Executive Director, Loaves and Fishes Food Bank
We are delighted to have worked with First West Credit Union for many years to help them create exceptional working environments for their employees in B.C. Our collaboration resulted in First West expanding their physical footprint to create leading edge office buildings in Langley, Penticton and Victoria. The vision to create collaboration-based environments is driven by their corporate social responsibility which actively strives for diversity, equity and inclusion. The investments First West has made in B.C. communities demonstrates their ongoing commitment to B.C. communities and to their employees. We are confident that if First West becomes federally regulated, this will only increase their ability to make an impact in B.C. communities and provide meaningful career opportunities for British Columbians.
George Sawatzky | Co-Founder, Omicron Canada Inc.
“CGI is proud to have a long-standing partnership with First West Credit Union. As a key partner in moving First West’s divisions onto a single banking platform, we have seen firsthand First West’s commitment to member experience. These types of technology initiatives serve to better position the credit union to meet the ever-evolving digital needs of the market and support their efforts to become a federally regulated credit union. CGI looks forward to continued collaboration with First West and doing our part to support their future growth and evolution in the Canadian market place.”
Richard Pickering | Vice President, Services to Credit Unions, CGI
“We love to be judged by the company we keep. Our partnership with First West Credit Union and its predecessors has been a particular source of pride for over a decade now. We’re continually inspired by their relentless commitment to putting their members at the forefront of their technology planning, strategy and execution. They’re smart, curious and entrepreneurial, and willing to do the hard work of constant evolution while navigating macroeconomic conditions. We believe their investment in agility and member centricity are competitive differentiators that will position the organization well as it seeks to become a federally regulated credit union and pursues new horizons.”
Steven Fitzgerald | President, Habanero Consulting
“Credit unions play a critical role in providing financial services across the country and work in tandem with local chambers of commerce and boards of trade to support communities to the benefit of Canadians. Becoming a federally regulated credit union will enable First West to continue to grow its workforce and protect its members’ interests by adhering to the high standards of financial regulation that have benefitted both individual Canadians and our country’s businesses.”
Hon. Perrin Beatty | President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Chamber of Commerce
Over the past three years, our company partnered with First West to create vibrant, high-performing workspaces across the province of British Columbia. First West is an innovative, forward-leaning company that has persisted towards becoming a leader in IT technology – while providing their staff across B.C. with workplaces that are designed to help them do their best work. Additionally, meaningful emphasis is routinely placed on the employee, and how the physical space may contribute towards their well-being. First West will certainly win awards in 2021 for their thoughtful approach to designing their interiors; however, the bigger story is around how their unrelenting passion to grow their brand while providing unlimited opportunity for their staff to complete fulfilling, purposeful work. First West has remained committed to providing their members with an unparalleled branch experience which has accelerated their growth across the province – making significant investments on Vancouver Island, the Interior of BC and the Lower Mainland. In tandem with their members, First West gives back to the communities in which they serve by raising money and collecting food for those less fortunate. It goes beyond their core business; First West Credit Union should be federally regulated as they provide meaningful service and experience to their members, staff and wider communities.
Mike Frewin | Regional Sales Manager, Western Canada, Steelcase
First West Credit Union, one of Canada’s largest and most progressive credit unions, has been a close client and partner to Everlink Payment Services since 2015, as were the credit unions which merged to form First West previously. Together, we have collaborated to demonstrate and deliver leadership and vision in the Canadian credit union system, respected by our peers and competitors. We continue to work with First West to provide innovative solutions that expand and improve First West member experience and satisfaction. Everlink wishes First West success in its commitment to become a federally regulated credit union.
Mark Ripplinger | President & CEO, Everlink Payment Services, Inc.