Courthouse not fit for winter

Structural integrity issues forcing court staff to move out

Nicholas Mercer
Published on November 2, 2015

The provincial court in Harbour Grace appears to be on the move again, and this time it will likely be for a few months instead of a couple of weeks.

It comes less than a year after operations were moved to Fong's Restaurant in nearby Carbonear for two weeks last November.

According to the Department of Justice and Public Safety, issues with the structural integrity of the building were identified and "it has been determined that the building cannot be occupied over the winter."

"The Department of Justice and Public Safety is now exploring options for alternate space to accommodate court services in Harbour Grace and we expect to have something in place within the next few weeks," a department spokesman told The Compass in an email last week.

Built in 1830, the Harbour Grace courthouse is the oldest public building in the province. When the frost sets in, it is possible to see the building shift on its foundation.

There are also multiple cracks along the eavestrough and the roof needs reshingling.

The last time court was moved, the building's structural integrity was again at the centre. Some $150,000 was spent to address the problems. Before that work started, the province admitted further renovations would be necessary and require an extended period of closure for the courthouse.


'Court cases moving to Fong's'

When operations returned two weeks later, there were a number of cosmetic differences. Thick wooden props were bolted to one of the outside corners and three pillars came up through the courtroom floor.

Earlier this summer, a sturdier wooden deck was built to replace the shoddy older one.

The temporary location for the court has not been determined, nor has a moving date been set.

"We do not anticipate there being any significant disruption in court services. Once a new, temporary location for the court has been finalized, we will notify the public," the statement said.