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Court closure lacks logic: Resident

Editor’s note – This is a copy of a letter to Dwight Ball, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador

Dear Mr. Ball,

The purpose of my letter is to object to the closure of the Supreme Court in Grand Falls-Windsor and to emphasize that this decision will not result in any significant savings to the Province and will disproportionately affect this region of the Province.

The immediate loss to this area which, in addition to Grand Falls-Windsor itself, covers Baie Verte Peninsula, Springdale, South Coast (Harbour Breton, Conne River etc…) is the closure of an efficient and well run Supreme Court and its users now being required to bear the burden of long additional travel times.

Three jobs in Grand Falls-Windsor will be lost, while Gander will apparently gain 1 job and the addition of our presently sitting Supreme Court Judge.  It therefore stands to reason that Government believes that it will save $120,000.00 from the elimination of what amounts to 2 clerical positions.

I believe that there will be no net savings to the Province for the following reasons:

  1. The Gander Court will require renovations in order to accommodate three Supreme Court Justices;
  2. Large costs will be borne in the coming months associated with moving files and furniture from this Court to Gander;
  3. Perhaps most significantly legal aid lawyers, crown attorneys, RMCP Officers, detained accused persons and Crown witnesses will need to travel to Gander to attend the Supreme Court for Applications, Bail Bearings, Trials etc…, all at the expense of Government on a go forward basis.

Have you considered the effect of this move on the Gander Supreme Court? What happens when the files from two busy courts are combined into one? Will further additional staff be required? And all of this while the Government pays to heat an empty Supreme Court Building in Grand Falls-Windsor that has been efficiently servicing this area for decades.

I must seriously question what effect the closure of this court will have on access to Justice in the region as people who need this service will now be burdened by the extra costs of paying their lawyers to travel to and from Gander for Court dates as well as face the added travel times themselves.  This especially problematic during winter months as more people will be asked to travel at night in potentially inclement weather or bear the added costs and inconvenience of booking a hotel.  This is not the level of access to justice that the approximate 100,000 people serviced by this Court House deserve.

I would further point out that hotels and restaurants here in Grand Falls-Windsor will be negatively affected as no RCMP officers, lawyers or witnesses will be staying here while trials are conducted.

I would therefore strongly urge you to reconsider the closing of the Grand Falls-Windsor Court house as the disproportionate effect on the region is not justified by the very limited savings, if there are any savings at all, associated with the elimination of two clerical positions.  I feel this decision was not made on a fully informed or well thought out, basis and have yet to encounter one single individual working in the legal system, or otherwise, in the area that believes this to be a good idea.

Good governance means listening to the people who are affected by your decisions.


Yours very truly,

Donald Pelley

Grand Falls-Windsor


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