MLA Sterling Belliveau unhappy with satellite courthouse closures

7 of Nova Scotia’s 12 satellite courthouses will be closing

Over the next six months, seven of the province’s 12 satellite courthouses will be closing.

The plan was announced as a way for the province to save money. The affected locations — courts in Barrington, Comeauville, Liverpool, Lunenburg, Port Hood, Guysborough and Baddeck — are only staffed part-time, and are often only used a few times a month.

Many of the locations are housed in rented buildings and community halls and their closing should save the province nearly $500,000.

Defence lawyer Michael Taylor says the decision will hurt many people in the court system.

“They don’t have a lot of time to travel. They don’t have cars. They’re not on a transit system. And now they may have to travel an hour and a half or two hours to get to a 9:30 [a.m.] court appearance. That’s going to be very difficult for a lot of people,” he said.

The cases will now be handled by larger, more centralized courts in places like Bridgewater, Sydney and Yarmouth. The province believes this will help cases get through the system quicker by eliminating the travel time of judges.’This government is going in the wrong direction’

Some members of the affected communities are already voicing their displeasure. Queens-Shelburne MLA Sterling Belliveau says some of his constituents have been in touch with him.

“They sense that these services are being taken away from… where their homes are located. So naturally, it’s clear to me that this government is going in the wrong direction,” said Belliveau.

The province says that the decision will not result in any job losses, but Belliveau says the decision still has an affect.

“It keeps on rippling through the community and people feel this erosion taking place — this outmigration of people,” he said.

The New Brunswick government made similar budgetary changes earlier this year, closing courthouses in St. Stephen, Sussex and Grand Manan.

April 15, 2015