Saved at the last minute
Harbour Grace keeps court services
Courthouse staff breathed a bit easier Friday once news broke that the justice department was not moving forward with its plan to close the court in Harbour Grace.
“Everybody is relieved to say the least,” one employee told The Compass that afternoon during a break. “It is good for the area. There’s no doubt.”
With most cases already moved to other courts in St. John’s and Clarenville starting next month, work to accommodate the closure was well underway. But a news release issued shortly after 1 p.m. confirmed government was reversing the decision to close.
Instead, a new 10-year lease was signed Friday with the owner of the Babb Building, with government now set to save $1 million over its duration thanks to a reduced price.
Also factoring into the reversal was a decision from the Supreme Court of Canada earlier this month concerning the length of time permissible to wrap up criminal cases.
While the justice department is still assessing the full implications of that decision, it ultimately decided closing provincial courts in Harbour Grace and Wabush and increasing caseloads elsewhere wouldn’t help matters.
Friday, Justice Minister An- drew Parsons acknowledged Harbour Grace handles “a higher caseload” and closing it would create pressure elsewhere.
“To know that there may be out there people charged with sexual assault and other crimes that we might have to basically lose out on these cases due to Charter infringements, that’s just not acceptable,” said the justice minister. Mayor Terry Barnes is grateful everyone who took on the cause of keeping the courthouse open avoided
We’re on cloud nine today. — Mayor Terry Barnes
A week away from closure, new life was breathed into Harbour Grace Provincial Court Friday with the signing of a new 10-year lease agreement between the province and the owner of the Babb Building.