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 the fall of 2013 a small group gathered in a Gastown meeting room. They were all lawyers who had worked for years trying to make BC’s justice system work better for families.
Most people involved in family disputes would like to have a lawyer help them, but many feel they can’t afford it. Until recently hiring a lawyer was usually an all-or-nothing proposition. You hired a lawyer and turned the conduct of your entire case over to them, or you were on your own.
Judging in Canada is not often a family affair, but occasionally two members of the same family have been appointed and served on courts in BC at the same time. There have been brothers and sisters-in-law on various BC courts simultaneously, and sisters on our Provincial Court together, but now the BC Provincial Court has judges who are mother and daughter – likely a first in Canada!