MONCTON – TD Bank is ahead of schedule with the hiring for its Corporate Offices at CF Champlain in Dieppe, says Frank McKenna, the former New Brunswick premier who is now deputy chair of the bank, at the grand opening Tuesday.
The bank had said last April that it plans to create 440 high-skilled finance jobs with an average annual compensation of $65,000, in addition to 575 full-time call centre jobs over three years.
It has so far filled 200 of those finance jobs and plans to hire another 50 by the end of the year, while the contact centre currently has 320 workers.
“When we set this process in motion, we didn’t want to come to Moncton, Dieppe and Riverview and be a predator, simply poaching jobs from elsewhere. We wanted to be additive to the community, which means bringing people from other parts of Canada, from other parts of TD, and from other countries in the world to our community to add to the richness of our community,” McKenna said.
While the bank hires locally, including through the universities, it also recruited 134 people from outside of Greater Moncton – 22 at the call centre and 112 on the finance side. Overall, the employees at the Dieppe offices represent 40 nationalities. Some also came from larger Canadian cities like Toronto and Ottawa, and some are New Brunswickers who wanted to return to the province.
The newcomers are “fresh blood that has been brought to our economy,” McKenna said. They were attracted not only by the job but also the quality and cost of living, he added.
“They can effectively sell a house in Toronto and buy three of them in Moncton,” he said.
With the new addition to Greater Moncton’s population in a tight real estate market – the rental unit vacancy rate is 2.7 per cent as of last October, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. – McKenna is hoping to see more new development.
“[It’s] a really good problem. Because you can always add more accommodation and that’s what’s happening. The mayor’s on it, the private sector’s on it. We can always do that. But what we can’t do in New Brunswick is have a declining population. That is not sustainable,” he said.
The tri-community of Dieppe, Moncton and Riverview worked alongside Opportunities NB and others to attract workers for TD, including through the Atlantic Immigration Pilot program. McKenna says while the region is still new to this experience, it’s doing well.
“We have to build those capacities – religious, foods, cultural centres, all of those. And the community is, I think, working at breakneck speed to do that…I think we’re getting good at it very quickly,” he said. “When we get to the situation where people come here and they stay here and put roots down, then we’ll know we’ve made it.”
TD spent $50 million on the facility that replaced Sears. Champlain Place owner Cadillac Fairview invested $25-million in the redevelopment.
“With this investment in our financial operations centre, we have created a state of the art hub where our people can bring their best selves to work in a fantastic setting while performing critical operations for TD,” said TD CEO Bharat Masrani, who attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “For the community and the Greater Moncton area, this investment is yet another demonstration of our commitment to this vibrant region and its strong local economy.”
Cadillac Fairview president and CEO John Sullivan told reporters after the ribbon-cutting that the mall will begin to see changes, too, as more people get hired at the TD office which has doors that connect it directly to the mall.
“This is really an example of … how malls are going to be ultimately turned into mixed-use developments. So you’re going to have residential of various forms – it could be seniors housing, it could be rental apartments, it could be condos, you’re going to have offices, you’re going to have entertainment and food, you’re going to have retail,” he said. “All of our Canadian malls are going to have some version of that over the next 10 years. So to some extent, this is leading the way.”
Though CF Champlain is unlikely to add any residential components, Sullivan said Cadillac Fairview is focusing on adding more food and beverage options as more foot traffic is expected from TD workers.
Meanwhile, the 108,000-square-foot space TD occupies still has 10,000 square foot available, something McKenna wants to see filled with more workers.
“What will happen? I don’t know. But I tell you, we don’t tend to leave space vacant. So already ideas are germinating of what could happen,” he said. “In a company as fast as ours, there’s always an opportunity to put more people in empty spaces. Or we may even grow the existing base. We may find that when we get to 1,000 or 1,100, we need more.”
And if people are asking whether the bank will stay, “we got 50 million reasons to stay here and grow,” McKenna said.