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Squamish courthouse closes doors for good



All court appearances will now be made in North Vancouver

Whistler residents who have a court date will have to travel to North Vancouver from now on.

Wednesday the Squamish courthouse closed it doors for good after serving the community for 24 years at its Second Avenue location.

The courthouse didn’t close without a fight.

Both Whistler Mayor Hugh O’Reilly and Squamish Mayor Corinne Lonsdale met with and wrote to officials from the Attorney General’s ministry in an effort to keep the one court-room facility open, even as a circuit court.

But last week crown counsel were told to start packing their boxes.

"Obviously we are disappointed," said O’Reilly.

"We identified there are substantial costs to our community so this is really another form of downloading. It is very significant… as there is overtime, staffing, accommodation and those sorts of things to be considered."

O’Reilly had hoped that certain types of cases such as traffic violations could be heard at Pemberton’s circuit court but it doesn’t look like that will be the case.

Lonsdale heard the news via the grapevine.

After fielding calls from the media on the closure she called the Attorney General’s ministry Monday and had the news confirmed.

"We never had any official notice," said Lonsdale, clearly upset at the way events unfolded.

"Justice isn’t being served in this community," she said.

"There will be no friendly witnesses anymore because nobody is going to give up a day or half a day to travel to court voluntarily.

"And what about those who don’t have transportation and what about single parents that really need to be home with their kids? This does really not work at all and I truly believe that the government did not put their minds to this at all."

Lonsdale is distressed that the government seems to be putting economics before people.

"The economy is terribly important to all of us but in fixing it we always have to consider what are the social impacts of this," she said.

"It is a terrible, terrible mistake."

All cases from Whistler south will now be heard in North Vancouver.

At one point officials were considering making Squamish a circuit court but, said Lonsdale, she was told the courthouse was too busy for that option.

"Well I am thinking," said Lonsdale. "If it is too busy for a circuit court how the devil do they justify taking it out of the community?"

Squamish did receive a 60-day reprieve, to July 31, following the Liberal government’s announcement of court closures around the province in January.