Victoria’s Integrated Court will be seven years old on March 16, 2017. Its latest annual report frankly describes its challenges and successes, and tells the story of one man’s rehabilitation in his own words.
Visitors to the area at Highway 10 and 144th Street in Surrey will have noticed major construction underway beside the courthouse since September 2016, and wondered what’s being built. Well, the project involves renovation of the courthouse built in 1991 and a three-storey addition to it.
It may seem that courts are slow to change – after all, judges wearing robes still sit at big desks at the front of our courtrooms and apply legal principles, some of which date back hundreds of years. But retired judges in BC have seen huge changes in the Provincial Court and its work over the last 45 years.
In 2012 lawyer Geoffrey Cowper QC investigated BC’s criminal justice system. As chair of the province’s Justice Reform Initiative he made recommendations for improving the system. This fall he prepared an update on the progress made in the last four years. Where do things stand today? Has there been improvement in BC’s criminal justice system?
Mr. Cowper thinks so.
Vancouver’s downtown eastside is an area is known for open drug use, aggressive panhandling, and a host of other disorderly behaviour. The number of people with addictions and mental illness is visible to any passerby.