Work on the new $200-million Red Deer Justice Centre is nearly complete.
Alberta Justice says once finished, the centre will have 12 courtrooms ready for use, an increase from eight at the current facility, to allow more cases to be heard at one time so matters can proceed in a timely manner.
A $200,000 investment in Budget 2023 will support a planning study to build out four additional courtrooms which will bring the total number of courtrooms to 16.
“Upgrading our province’s courthouses gives Albertans a more secure and comfortable experience when they need to visit court. By building a new justice centre in Red Deer, we are taking steps to increase capacity in the justice system to keep up with demand,” said Justice Minister and Attorney General Mickey Amery, in a statement.
The 312,000-square-foot building, located just south of the downtown branch of the Red Deer Public Library, has eight floors above ground and two floors below ground level.
The justice centre will have spaces for people taking alternative approaches to the traditional courtroom trial process, with three new suites for judicial dispute resolution services, a new Indigenous courtroom with dedicated venting for smudging purposes, and a dedicated suite for alternative dispute resolution services such as family mediation and civil mediation.
Albertans will continue to access court services at the existing Red Deer courthouse while the new centre is being built.
Alberta Justice says upgrading and building new courthouses improves Albertans’ access to the justice system by adding courtrooms and making buildings easier for everyone to navigate.
“Access to justice services within communities across Alberta is critically important. Not only will these projects help increase access to the judicial system, boost the local economy and create jobs, they will also ensure effective and accessible delivery of services Albertans rely on,” said Infrastructure Minister Pete Guthrie.
While Red Deer is getting a new building with additional courtrooms, Brooks, Hinton and Peace River will see renovations to the existing courthouses to make them more user-friendly and to provide updated security, privacy and accessibility features.
“The Canadian Bar Association - Alberta Branch has long been calling for upgrades to Alberta’s court infrastructure through our Agenda for Justice, including improving courtroom technology to make virtual appearances more widely available, improving physical accessibility to ensure that all Albertans can safely access court facilities, and improving capacity to address our province’s growing population,” said Kyle Kawanamim, Alberta Branch president.
“We are pleased to see these improvements underway, and look forward to continued investments in Alberta’s court infrastructure and modernization.”