The technology that the Revelstoke Credit Union uses has changed dramatically in the 65 years since its inception in 1953, but its commitment to its members and the community of Revelstoke have never waivered.
The earliest financial co-operatives were started in England at the beginning of the 19th century. Germany followed with the establishment of a credit union movement a few decades later. These co-operative movements were the models on which Canadian credit unions were based.
British Columbia was hit hard by the depression and as banks left smaller communities, Credit Unions stepped in to fill the void. In 1939, the BC Credit Unions Act allowed Credit Unions to be legally registered. The act allowed both communities based credit unions, and employment based credit unions to form.
Employment based credit unions were not open to the general public, but community credit unions were. The first officially registered credit union in B.C. was established in Powell River.
Revelstoke was only fifteen years behind Powell River. In July of 1953, an advertisement in the Revelstoke Review explained that credit unions are “organized by its members for the purpose of encouraging thrift, and making available credit at a reasonable rate of interest for provident and productive purposes.”
A September 1953 copy of the Revelstoke Review reports “At a well attended meeting held in the Civic Centre Friday September 11th; the initial steps for the formation of a Credit Union in the Revelstoke district were formulated.” The article goes on to state that during the question and answer period it was established that there were enough people in attendance to apply for a charter and become a registered Credit Union. A.S. Parker was elected as temporary president, H. Godfrey as vice-president, Mrs. F Rear as secretary, and directors H. Popplewell, F. Cranston and Mrs. F. Rear. A movie called the King’s X was shown at the meeting. The King’s X can be viewed on YouTube.
According to the 2010 Annual Report of the Revelstoke Credit Union “ The Revelstoke and District Credit Union incorporated September 18, 1953, received charter number 275 and had total assets of $35.00. The first loan granted by Revelstoke Credit Union was to E.J. Todd in the amount of $100.00.” By March 4, 1954, the date of the first annual meeting, the Revelstoke and District total assets were $ 1806.67 and there were 106 members.
Fast-forward to 2017 where the RCU’s assets reported are $177,120,819, and the membership stands at over 4,800. The population of Revelstoke has remained relatively stable at around 8,000.
Today, as in the past, the Revelstoke Credit Union is an independent single branch credit union. RCU’s mission is ”Maintain profitability while being sensitive to the needs of our Members” with a tagline “Locally Owed and Operated.”
The RCU is a member of Central One as are all the credit unions in B.C. and Ontario.
Roberta Bobicki, RCU’s CEO, is an unabashed Revelstoke Community Credit Union supporter. Bobicki believes strongly in the cooperative values on which the credit union movement was formed
Bobicki explains that although RCU has to follow rules and regulations, but that as an independent the RCU has the ability to be flexible, to push against the walls, and to be creative when dealing with members’ individual situations. RCU isn’t just answering to a head office “where you have to do everything exactly like this.”
When asked what she loves about her job Bobicki says, “everything, the people, the culture, the focus on being able to do what’s right for the community and for the members.”
Bobicki is proud of the RCU Board she serves. Credit union members elect the RCU Board, which is made up of nine local citizens who are members of the Revelstoke Credit Union. She is equally proud of the employees of the RCU.
In 2017 the member rewards and community giving programs pumped $459,423.95 back into the community.
The member rewards program distributed $300,000 to members. “Residential mortgages and loans earn a rebate based on the total of annual interest paid where as deposits earn a bonus based on the total interest earned.” For example, a member who had paid interest of $8,888 on mortgages and loans earns a member reward of $444.
The Community Giving Program has been running for twenty-five years. In 2017 the Community Giving program and the Community Giving Capital Projects program distributed $100,000 to various organizations. A complete list of grant receipts can be found on RCU’s web page. A $50,000 donation was also presented to the Splash Park Society. Projects like the heli-pad at the hospital have benefited in previous years. In order to allow communities organizations to apply the grant process has been streamlined as much as possible, and matching grants are not required.
Even though the Revelstoke Credit Union is in a new building with the most up to date technology, the cooperative values of the founding members are still upheld.
After 65 years the Revelstoke Credit Union is stronger than ever.