By Jesse-Ann Hennessey
Special to KingsCountyNews.ca
When the penny first appeared in Canadian history books in 1858, they were coined at the Royal Mint in London, England and then shipped to Canada to be distributed and spent.
It wasn’t until 1908 that Canada started minting pennies in Canada at the Royal Mint in Ottawa, Ontario.
Now, 155 years later, the penny has come into the spotlight again, this time for being phased out from Canada’s coinage system.
On Feb. 4, the Royal Canadian Mint officially ended distribution of the penny due to the cost to produce it versus its actual value, environmental considerations and the handling costs it causes retailers, financial institutions and the economy.
Cash payments or transactions will be rounded to the nearest five-cent increment when pennies are not available, meaning something that is $2.33 will be rounded up to $2.35. Cheques and transactions using electronic payments will be settled electronically.
The penny costs about 1.6 cents to produce, distribute, handle and process, meaning it costs more to make then it’s actually worth. This makes the decision to get rid of the penny easy to understand, but for some it’s still hard to say goodbye.
Harley Moody, owner of Bargain Harleys in Berwick, said he hates to see something like the penny disappear, but he understands it costs more to make it then it’s worth and it will save a lot in handling of coins.
“We’ll get used to it,” he said.
Bargain Harleys will be using pennies as long the customers do. It will probably be a month or so before they disappear completely from circulation, predicted Moody.
“We’ll be using pennies as long as they’re here.”
Colleen Dagnall, part-owner of Berwick studio ShooterBug Photography and Design, said usually customers use cheque or credit at ShooterBug, so the penny being discontinued won’t have a big impact on the studio.
“I don’t think it’s going to affect us,” she said.
Wassa Toulany from the Snack Shack in Kentville said for now they are taking pennies if the customer has them, but if not, they are rounding the price to the nearest five-cent value and will continue to do so until the penny is gone.
“We’re just going with the flow,” she said.
The loss of the penny left some Kings County residents with mixed emotions. Summer Joudrey from Greenwood said she is on the fence about the penny being taken out of circulation.
“I don’t like change in my pocket, except toonies and loonies.”
Andrew Zwicker, a Greenwood resident, is happy to see the penny go.
“Nobody likes pennies, they should have been outlawed long ago.”
Jillian O’Rielley said she thinks it will be cool once everyone gets used to it.
“Unfortunately, our kids will never understand the concept of ‘penny candies’.”