It appears Red Deer’s backlog of court cases can’t wait for the completion of a larger new courthouse.
Renovations are underway to add one more courtroom to Red Deer’s existing courthouse — even though the space-challenged facility, built in the 1970s, is slated to be replaced by the larger new courthouse complex by 2023.
The $1-million additional courtroom is expected to be completed on the main floor by August. It’s an interim measure that will allow more court cases to go before a judge, speeding up the local wheels of justice.
“It will help alleviate immediate courtroom space pressures,” until the new facility is completed in about five years, said Haley Brown, spokesperson for Alberta Infrastructure.
The brand-new Red Deer Justice Centre will be going up on the 49th Street site of the former downtown Red Deer RCMP building, which will be demolished later this year. Ground breaking for the new complex, with 12 courtrooms, is anticipated in the spring of 2019.
While the cost of Red Deer’s new Justice Centre appears to have jumped to $181 million from a previously reported $97 million in this year’s provincial budget, this isn’t really the case.
Brown explained the $97-million listed in last year’s budget only considered project costs from 2017 to 2021. This year’s figure — the $181-million — includes costs from 2018 to 2023, by which time the whole complex will be completed.
About $4.7 million was allocated for the project for the 2018 fiscal year, mainly for preliminary design work.
A question still hangs over the future of Red Deer’s historic Parsons house, which sits on a corner lot, next to the old police station. Alberta Infrastructure is in the process of acquiring the land this house sits on for the new courthouse project.
Brown said she can’t comment further on the future of Parsons house until the land deal is completed this summer.
Since the brick house, once Red Deer’s first medical clinic, is a municipal historic resource, the province will have to get city council’s approval on whether to demolish the two-storey structure, save and incorporate it into the project, or move it elsewhere.
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