Turner Valley courthouse opening in spring
Court: No need for more judges says head of rural circuit courts
By: Darlene Casten
| Posted: Wednesday, Sep 05, 2012 12:43 pm
The Turner Valley courthouse is expected to open next spring, say Provincial officials, who recently hired an architect to design a renovation of the building.
Initially, a provincial spokesperson said the courthouse would re-open by the end of the year, but that date has been moved back as the Province takes steps to get the project underway this fall.
The Province will officially take possession of Turner Valley’s municipal office at the end of the month, allowing the architects to take a look at the building and assess what needs to be done, said Alberta Infrastructure spokesperson Roxanne Nanuan.
“They still have to go in and do the measurements and complete the design,” Nanuan said.
Norr Architects has been hired to do the work, but Nanuan said she couldn’t discuss how much the Province is paying for their services. The design work is scheduled to take around three months. When the design is done the Province will put out a tender for a construction company to do the work. Nanuan said there will be extensive upgrades to the building.
“It should be a beautiful building when it is done,” she said.
The cost to renovate the courthouse will be made public when it is known, Nanuan said, but will not include the architect’s fees.
“We can’t release it,” she said. “It is their proprietary information.”
The building on Main Street was built in 1978. It was a provincial courthouse until 1996 when it was closed and the Town bought the building for $196,000. The Province signed a deal with the Town to buy back the building and an adjoining lot for $850,000. They plan to rep-open the courthouse to alleviate pressure at the Okotoks courthouse, where trials and preliminary inquiries are being set a year away.
Nanuan said there is still existing infrastructure, like a holding cell, from the previous courthouse, but said everything needs to be updated.
“Those things have to be brought up to standard,” she said.
Michelle Davio, an Alberta Justice spokesperson, said she couldn’t comment on the amount of staffing for Calgary circuit courts. She said there have been no decisions on whether more court clerks or judges will be hired when the Turner Valley courthouse re-opens.
“It is too early to tell,” Davio said.
Bob Wilkins, assistant Chief Judge for the Calgary regional courts, said there are enough judges to man another circuit point.
“We just closed Banff so we will have the same number of circuit points,” Wilkins said, adding Tsuu T’ina is currently operating its courts out of Calgary as well.
The Banff provincial courthouse was closed at the end of 2010.
There are six judges assigned to circuit court, Wilkins said, and when needed the 30 other judges who work at the Calgary courthouse can be scheduled to work at circuit courts.
“We do that all the time,” Wilkins said.
The number of sitting dates hasn’t been set yet in Turner Valley, but Wilkins anticipates it will only be open as many as two days a week.
“Opening Turner Valley is a very minor adjustment to our schedule,” he said.
It is hoped opening the Turner Valley courthouse will allow cases to be heard earlier in Okotoks, he said.
“We are hoping Turner Valley will relieve some of the pressure in Okotoks,” he said.