Turner Valley court in sesssion this spring
Justice: Delays have put project a year behind
Wednesday, Jan 29, 2014 06:00 am
Turner Valley’s courthouse is nearing completion and provincial officials say it will be this spring when the building opens its doors to the public, nearly a year after it was first expected to be ready.
The courthouse was supposed to open in the spring of 2013, however, provincial finances and poor weather has pushed the opening to sometime this spring.
Alberta Infrastructure spokesperson Roxanne Nanuan said the project was delayed twice last year, first when the Province announced it would be reviewing all courthouses following their spring budget and again in June when flooding wreaked havoc in the foothills, delaying construction at the site.
The project is on budget, Nanuan said, although the province has not yet given a figure on the total budget for the project.
The building was formerly a courthouse, but was shut down in 1996, when the town bought it to use as their town hall. The Province then bought the building back and an adjacent lot from the town in 2012 for $850,000 to turn reopen a courthouse in the town.
The interior construction work included creating a secured entrance, new bathrooms, bringing the 35-year-old building’s electrical work up to code, installing audio and visual technology, renovating the courthouse area and holding cells and office areas with new paint and carpet. Outside the parking lot was expanded and the roof was replaced, at a cost of $67,821.
Nanuan said construction was completed late this month and now they are working on furnishing the building, installing security cameras and setting up computers.
“The moving in process has started,” Nanuan said.
Next the site will be turned over to Justice officials, who will need to move in their belongings, she said.
Alberta Justice spokesperson Dan Laville said a move-in date for justice staff, like judges, clerks and crown prosecutors has not been set yet.
However, they are expecting the courthouse will be ready for the public in the next couple of months.
“Things seem to be on track for opening up for business in the spring, but there are no dates yet,” he said.
The days the courthouse will be operational also have not been determined yet, Laville said.
“We are talking to stakeholders right now,” he said. “That could include judges and crown prosecutors.”
There are a number of people looking forward to the courthouse opening.
Turner Valley mayor Kelly Tuck has said the courthouse will help council’s efforts to revitalize the downtown core.
“We are very excited for opening day,” she said.
Turner Valley police Sgt. Paulina Larrey-King said having a courthouse next to the police station could mean less overtime for officers who must attend court, while allowing them to be more involved in the court process.
“Officers can be more hands on with their files,” Larrey-King said.
Now officers can spend hours in Okotoks Provincial Court waiting for their cases to be dealt with.
The re-opening of the Turner Valley courthouse was in response to an overloaded docket at the Okotoks courthouse. Despite opening the Okotoks courthouse five days a week, with one day for traffic tickets, two days for docket court, or regular appearances, and two days for trial, cases can take more than a year to go to trial.