Context: The Lower Fraser Valley (LFV), just south of Vancouver is served by courthouses in several locations. Due to demand factors and system capacity shortfalls there were concerns that governments’ ability to continue providing timely and accessible justice services to the citizens of the LFV were being are put at risk. The Ministry of Justice and Attorney General’s (JAG), the Cities of Abbotsford, Surrey, Chilliwack, Langley City, and the Township of Langley formed a consortium to prepare a regional long-term plan for the expansion of court capacity in the Lower Fraser Valley. Cornerstone was selected to carry out the study and produce a LFV Courts Regional Plan that would provide equitable access for residents, economize on development and operating costs, optimize police travel time for court appearances, resolve current deficiencies in a timely manner, provide flexibility for adapting to changes in the region’s demand and the delivery of justice services over time; and minimize disruption to current court activities.
Approach: Given the need to achieve a consensus among the members of the consortium, a highly consultative process was adopted and successfully maintained by the client’s Project Manager with regular discussions and exploration of a full range of options. The projections of courtroom demand were generated in a manner that allowed the demand to be geographically defined so that the proposed scale and location of courthouses would best serve the patterns of growth in the region. This was a departure from previous Ministry planning approaches that focused on projected shortfalls at existing courthouses. The feasibility analysis included test fits for potential sites and costing estimates. Our team included a recognized expert in courts planning demand models and a highly qualified quantity surveyor for estimating relative capital and operating costs.
Results: The LFV Courts Regional Plan was unanimously approved by the members of the Consortium and was used to initiate the high priority expansion projects that were recommended in the Plan.