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Har­bour Grace keeps court ser­vices

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON

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

AN­DREW ROBIN­SON/TC ME­DIA

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.

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