/P { margin-bottom: 0.21cm;No provincial offences court in Minden for a year

P { margin-bottom: 0.21cm;No provincial offences court in Minden for a year

By Chad Ingram

“I'm constrained by the decorum ofthis chamber to limit myself to language that's appropriate” saidHaliburton County Warden Brent Devolin during a March 22 countycouncil meeting.

Devolin was reacting to notification thatprovincial offences court proceedings in Minden will be suspended fora year from July 1 2017 to July 1 2018 with all of thoseproceedings to take place in Lindsay instead.

“There is a serious shortage ofjustices of the peace in the Central East Region which is negativelyimpacting our operations” reads correspondence from Karen Dunnmanager of court operations for the City of Kawartha Lakes to thecounty. “This shortage is mainly due to the fact that the Ministry[of the Attorney General] has not been replacing justices of thepeace on a regular basis when they retire or are unable to work. InCentral East we should have a compliment of 48 full time presidingjustices of the peace; however at present we have 11 vacancies andthree off on long-term disability. In March alone there will be 80court closures in our jurisdiction due to this shortage and it isexpected to get worse in the upcoming year.”

As a result the regional seniorjustice of the peace has decided to suspend court proceedings forprovincial offences in Minden for a year beginning July 1 moving allthose cases to Lindsay.

“Provincial offences are somethingwhere the revenue goes directly to the local municipality” saidcounty chief administrative officer Mike Rutter. “It seems to methere will be significant additional costs associated with this.”

Rutter said the decision would likelyrequire additional work by the Haliburton Highlands OPP.

“I'll sympathize with the police”said Devolin. “There will be people who will not show up.”

“The OPP are going to have to pickthem up and take them down” said Dysart et al Reeve MurrayFearrey.

“The fact they can't replaceindividuals within their organization speaks to their competency”said

Devolin who launched into a critical tirade of the province'sLiberal government

“I am not amused in any way” hesaid. “This is a lot bigger problem than just moving the court[temporarily] to Lindsay.”

Devolin said if the community doesn'tprotest the decision it's likely the province will make the move apermanent one.

“It'll never come back.”

Devolin pointed out that the provincehas created a number of programs designed to reduce carbon emissions.

“I don't see how making everybody inHaliburton County drive to the City of Kawartha Lakes is going tohelp in any regard” he said.

“Once again we're at the bottom ofthe food chain said Fearrey. “It's just incompetency. Here's theold story again; the decision's been made.”

Last year the province announced ithad decided to close the Minden Service Ontario office along witheight others in various communities. After significant outcry fromthose communities the government announced recently the officeswould remain open.

Algonquin Highlands Reeve Carol Moffattsaid that not having provincial offences court take place in Mindenwill also mean revenue losses for local businesses.

“If you're in town you know it'scourt day” Moffatt said. “There is a contribution to the economyin that regard. If you're in Lindsay you'll shop in Lindsay.”

The county will send correspondence toprovince requesting the decision be reversed and that localgovernments be reimbursed for lost revenues and incurred expenses.

Ontario and Superior court of justicematters will continue to be heard in Minden.