Langley City and Township are part of a new $600,000 study of South of the Fraser communities and their needs for court services.
The provincial government announced the study as part of the Lower Fraser Valley Courts Regional Plan.
The Lower Fraser Valley is one of the fastest growing regions in the province and this plan will be a key part of supporting future expansion of court facilities.
The plan will be a collaborative project between the five municipalities and the province. Involved are the two Langleys, Surrey, Abbotsford/Mission, and Chilliwack.
"I think it's a great opportunity," commented Township Mayor Jack Froese. "I think it's a great way to do it instead of having the attorney general's office tell us what we're getting."
He said the population of these communities will only continue to grow in the coming years and people need to have timely access to the court system.
"Right now courts are stretched," Froese said. City Mayor Peter Fassbender also likes that the provincial government is planning for the future now.
"We want to see some of the backlog eliminated," he said.
The City has been advocating for court services.
The courthouse that used to be in downtown Langley City, where the Public Health building is now, was closed more than a decade ago. The province consolidated services to save money.
B.C. currently has 45 staffed courthouses and 44 circuit courts. Abbotsford has a provincial court, Chilliwack has a provincial court as well as a Supreme Court, and Surrey has a provincial court.
Fassbender said that, whether the old building or another is used, there will be a need for more court services in the area.
Abbotsford has been designated to administer the $600,000 grant from the Ministry of Citizens' Services and Open Government to identify courtroom expansion needs and solutions in the region.
The plan will examine factors such as space and facility needs, increasing courtroom pressures and demands, and growing populations in each area.
Another $800,000 in operating funds and $400,000 in capital funds will also be invested in developing courthouse design guidelines and a business case for the recommended Lower Fraser Valley Courts Regional Plan projects once the study is complete.
The funding will come from the Ministries of Justice and Citizens' Services, and Open Government.
The study is supposed to be done by the end of this year with plans and a business case developed by May 2014.
"The Lower Fraser Valley is a rapidly expanding region with several fast-growing communities. This multi-community planning project will give us the information we need to meet the justice needs of the Lower Fraser Valley region," said B.C.
Attorney General Shirley Bond.
@ Copyright 2013