Facility Improves Access to Justice for Hastings County
BELLEVILLE, ON, Sept. 5, 2013 /CNW/ - A new, energy-efficient courthouse is open for business in downtown Belleville. Construction of the Quinte Courthouse was completed in July 2013, with court operations beginning in late August.
The new facility, located at 15 Bridge St. West, improves access to justice for the County of Hastings by consolidating Superior Court of Justice and Ontario Court of Justice services. Crown attorneys, courts administration, the Victim Witness Assistance program, the Hastings County Law Association, Adult Probation and Parole, Children's Aid Society, Legal Aid Ontario, the John Howard Society, Salvation Army, and mental health workers are now being housed in a single modern and efficient facility. Previously, the courts operated out of three separate locations in Belleville.
During construction, the project supported and created jobs. An estimated 275 workers were on site daily at the peak of construction. At capacity, about 500 staff and visitors are expected to conduct business in the new facility every day, bringing increased demand for services in downtown Belleville.
The new, six-storey building increases the number of courtrooms in the County of Hastings, provides better technology and security and improves access for people with disabilities.
The Quinte Courthouse was designed and built to meet the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver standard. As part of this commitment, a 360 square-metre green roof was incorporated into the building design to improve energy conservation and storm water runoff.
Infrastructure Ontario is a crown agency of the Province of Ontario that delivers large, complex infrastructure renewal projects on time and on budget. Over the last six years, the province has applied Infrastructure Ontario's alternative financing and procurement model to 83 major projects valued at approximately $38 billion, saving taxpayers an estimated $3 billion. Infrastructure Ontario also manages one of the largest real estate portfolios in Canada, provides municipalities and eligible public sector clients with financing to renew public infrastructure, and leverages its private-sector expertise to manage major commercial transactions on behalf of the province.
Visit www.infrastructureontario.ca for more information.
Hon. John Gerretsen, Attorney General
"This new, modern, accessible facility brings together all court services in the region under one roof. The Quinte Courthouse is another example of our continued commitment to delivering courthouses that meet the highest standards for accessibility, greening, security and technology."
Hon. Glen Murray, Minister of Infrastructure
"The new Quinte Courthouse is a prime example of our government's commitment to investing in infrastructure across Ontario. The completion of this project is great news — not only for the justice community, but for local businesses, community agencies, and residents."
QUINTE COURTHOUSE DESIGNED WITH SUSTAINABILITY IN MIND
The new Quinte Courthouse was designed and built to meet the Canada Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver standards, incorporating environmentally sustainable construction practices and energy-efficient design.
For the first time, a green roof has been incorporated into the design of a new provincial courthouse. Quinte Courthouse's green roof is comprised of moss and 12 species of plants that require minimal maintenance. The vegetation absorbs rainwater and provides insulation that reduces energy costs by helping to keep the building warm in winter and cool in summer.
The 360 square-metre green roof is located on the east end of the building and is visible through the windows of courtrooms on the 2nd, 4th and 5th floors. The green roof is a natural foreground when viewing the historic city hall across the Moira River from the courthouse.
Other green features of the Quinte Courthouse include:
- a system which modulates and measures airflow to keep the temperature and humidity levels in the building consistent and comfortable
- a design that takes advantage of natural light wherever possible to reduce electricity use
- low-flow water fixtures and green housekeeping practices that reduce water consumption
- the use of low-emitting building and construction materials.
- motion-sensitive lights in courtrooms, interview rooms, meeting rooms, training rooms, and boardrooms that lower energy costs by ensuring that lights are only on when the rooms are in use
- motorized blinds that lower automatically as the sunlight increases to reduce cooling costs
WITH AN EYE TOWARDS THE FUTURE - THE QUINTE COURTHOUSE
The world-class Quinte Courthouse is a cornerstone civic building that will make a significant contribution to the revitalization of Belleville's downtown core, now and for years to come.
One of the important design features of the new courthouse is its ability to adapt to future needs and a changing justice landscape impacted by population growth, new legislation and new technologies. Areas of the courthouse can be modified to accommodate changing caseload volumes and the latest court technology.
Examples of the building's flexibility include:
- Courtrooms with moveable and removable public rails and seating, moveable and modular prisoner boxes, and portable interpretation booths, all of which allow for a variety of courtroom setups.
- The ability to build extra courtrooms in existing administrative space to accommodate future growth.
- Courtrooms that can be used for either Superior Court or Ontario Court matters. The judicial Coat of Arms, which denotes which court is presiding, can be changed with a simple slide of a panel. As well, the glass panel on the front of the prisoner box is removable, allowing it to be set up for either a Superior Court or an Ontario Court matter.
- Mobile video conferencing carts that can be used in a variety of spaces, including courtrooms, conference settlement rooms and meeting rooms.
- Barrier-free courtrooms to accommodate users with physical disabilities in the public area, including the dais, counsel tables, the witness and accused boxes, and the court clerk and reporter's desk. Nine of the eleven courtrooms have a barrier-free dais, and all jury boxes have one barrier-free seating position to accommodate wheelchairs and other mobility devices.
Participants from across the justice system were instrumental in helping the project architects plan for the future needs of courthouse users. Representatives from the Superior Court of Justice, the Ontario Court of Justice, Court Services, Crown Attorney's Office, Probation and Parole, Belleville Police Service, Victim/Witness Assistance Program, and Legal Aid Ontario all provided valuable input into the design.
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SOURCE: Infrastructure Ontario
For further information:
Ministry of the Attorney General