B.C. figures court needed in Langley

Langley could get its courthouse returned after an absence of more than two decades, thanks to a long-term plan to build more courtrooms.

Attorney General Suzanne Anton announced that 29 new courtrooms will be needed over the next 20 years in the Lower Fraser Valley, from Surrey to Chilliwack.

An agreement between the province and Surrey, Abbotsford, both Langleys, and Chilliwack led to the plan. 

The strategy was largely developed by local mayors from the affected communities.

In the immediate future, the plan recommends expanding the Surrey Provincial Court by five rooms, and updating the technology.

A new 14-courtroom building is also to be constructed in Abbotsford. 

Both projects are to be done by 2018.

Langley’s project is long-term, but the plan recommends a five-courtroom provincial courthouse. 

The plan also envisions adding more courtrooms to Chilliwack and Surrey by 2033, above Surrey’s near-term expansion.

Langley once had its own courthouse, located on Fraser Highway near Glover Road. The court was shut during the 1990s, and the building remains as a public health centre.

There have been periodic calls, mostly by local politicians, to bring back the courthouse.

Langley, White Rock, and Delta are the only communities in the South Fraser region without their own courthouses. 

Most of Langley’s cases are heard in the Surrey Provincial Court, with some serious cases heard in New Westminster. 

Whether Surrey or New Wesminster, it means local RCMP officers and other witnesses must head out of town when testifying.

Langley’s two mayors released statements supporting the plan.

“Timely access to court services is paramount to an effective and efficient civil and criminal justice system,” said Township Mayor Jack Froese.

“Demands on the justice system due to system capacity shortfalls, including facilities, are of increasing concern in the City of Langley and the rest of the Lower Fraser Valley,” said Ted Schaffer, acting mayor of Langley City. 

He called the plan a roadmap to guide investment in courts for the region.

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