Editor: My family has lived in the City of Langley for nearly 16 years. Over those years, their needs, as well as the City’s, have changed, as they have aged and have developed physical limitations.
Such limitations required my grandfather and, recently, my mother and uncle to use scooters.
My grandmother is also visually impaired now. They are not unlike many people living in the downtown area of the City of Langley — a densely populated area with a demographic that includes a large senior population, and others who manage physical limitations in their daily lives.
Such barriers faced by residents in this community make access to services vitally important.
As many of us know, the use of scooters and other mobility devices are a major challenge in the City and adjacent Township of Langley, especially as many services are located on the north side of the Langley Bypass.
I recently learned that the local TD Bank branch located at 204 Street and Douglas Crescent is closing and will redirect its customers to the branch on Willowbrook Drive.
This leaves many customers with mobility issues in a difficult position when it comes to their banking needs.
Online banking is not necessarily the panacea most people think; otherwise, the need for face-to-face banking would not exist.
This was a very busy branch the times I visited for face-to-face services. So why is a well-established, bustling branch shutting its doors in one of the most densely populated areas of Langley?
Customers will now face the option of switching to a different bank closer to where they live, or become dependent on transit in order to reach the Willowbrook Drive branch.
There are now only two remaining bank branches (Scotia Bank and Westminster Savings) serving the downtown Langley area south of the Bypass between 200 and 208 Streets.
I learned that TD would leave an ATM machine at the same location where the branch currently resides. This will help, however, I believe there are some things that cannot replace face-to-face service for people with particular needs.
Services continue to disappear in this part of Langley as businesses struggle to survive.
The more effort required from physically challenged residents, the less likely they will access services.
Residents with mobility issues deserve to have uncomplicated access to services within a reasonable distance. Perhaps well-established businesses could allow some room to mitigate the bottom line in order to service vulnerable communities.
We are at a tipping point in the City of Langley. Areas that once used to thrive with local businesses now resemble ghost towns.
The City of Langley needs more than nail salons and pharmacies (thank you City of Langley for putting the kibosh on cheque cashing stores).
We now need to move on to long-term considerations for the type of businesses that will benefit this vulnerable community, as well how to keep them from moving away.