The province is studying a proposal to merge the Halifax and Dartmouth provincial courts, which would reduce costs and wait times while improving accessibility, safety and efficiency.
The new provincial court would consolidate the two provincial courts into the Spring Garden Road location. A request for proposal released today, Aug. 14, will look at whether it is possible to expand the Spring Garden Road courthouse and move the Dartmouth court program there.
"One consolidated provincial court in Halifax Regional Municipality would reduce costs to the taxpayer, reduce wait times for cases, enhance safety of all participants and improve court access and efficiency," said Justice Minister Ross Landry. "There is increasing pressure on the two courts to meet the demand of the justice system. Over the past five years, there has been a substantial increase in the number and complexity of court hearings at both locations. Without changes, these two courthouses will have difficulty continuing to meet this demand."
The Spring Garden Road courthouse has six courtrooms housed in the 160-year-old, provincially owned heritage building. Court cases at Dartmouth provincial court's five courtrooms are held in leased space on Pleasant Street.
A study in 1996 found that a renovation at Spring Garden Road and construction of an accompanying new building to accommodate additional courtrooms was feasible. The current request for proposal will update and improve on that study by looking at all aspects of having a consolidated provincial courthouse on that site.
"This is the first step in the process, and we're simply gathering information and doing our homework," said Mr. Landry. "We still have a long way to go before a decision is made on whether there will be one consolidated provincial courthouse in HRM."
The tender can be found at www.gov.ns.ca/tenders/ .