Judge to young Vancouver lawyers: stop whining about driving to the Valley

"Drivers make this trek each day with most of their sanity intact afterward," the judge wrote.

'It is not in a foreign country'

Abbotsford can seem a long way off when you're coming from Vancouver, say some members of the Vancouver legal profession, according to an Abbotsford judge. (Christer Waara/CBC)

A Vancouver-based lawyer who complained about having to drive to court in Abbotsford wasn't the first to grumble.

Or the second.

Or the third.

But, unfortunately for him, he was the fall guy.

A provincial court judge launched into a brief lecture after the lawyer — representing the party who asked for the application to be brought forward in the first place — had said it was "unfair" to have to drive from his office in Vancouver to Abbotsford for proceedings earlier this month.

Judge K. D. Skilnick said he and other judges in the community are hearing more and more complaints from "many junior lawyers" coming from Vancouver.

Lawyer Jessie Legaree, based in Abbotsford, said the same.

"If the application is set in Chilliwack, it's like the end of the world," she said.

For context, the drive between the Vancouver and Abbotsford courthouses takes about an hour, maybe an hour and a half, depending on traffic — apparently eons in Vancouverite Standard Time.

Skilnick took a rare off-topic moment in the middle of a court proceeding "to clear up any confusion that may exist among those members of the bar."

"Abbotsford is a city located within the province of British Columbia, coincidentally the same province that Vancouver is located in," he wrote in his formal ruling. "It is not in a foreign country."

"One may access Abbotsford by motor vehicle without having to clear customs, ride a ferry or proceed through any sort of checkpoints. No one is asked to present their 'paper' when entering this city. Persons visiting Abbotsford from Vancouver do not require a passport or any type of inoculation or shots before coming here."

'One may access Abbotsford by motor vehicle without having to clear customs, ride a ferry or proceed through any sort of checkpoints. ... Persons visiting Abbotsford from Vancouver do not require a passport or any type of inoculation or shots before coming here,' an Abbotsford judge has clarified. (Google Maps)

He continued:

"While this trip cannot be compared to a leisurely Sunday drive, patient drivers make this trek each day with most of their sanity intact afterward."

And then continued some more:

"For many years now Abbotsford has had electricity and indoor plumbing. Its drinking water is not only safe but has even won international awards. Abbotsford is a generous community and often ranks first in the nation in charitable donations per capita. This community has many other virtues that are best left to the local Chamber of Commerce to extol."

Vancouver and Abbotsford are about 67 kilometres apart. (Tourism Vancouver, Barbershop Films)

And extol, the chamber did.

"We can provide a copy of our Fraser Valley experience guides at any time," said executive director Allan Asaph after reading the "entertaining" ruling.

"Lots to do, not only here but through all the municipalities on your way to Abbotsford," he said. "More than happy to help."

The judge said any person finding themselves with an unhappy big-city lawyer always has options closer to home.

"I would simply remind any parties who feel disadvantaged or abused by the fact that their out-of-town counsel are required to personally travel here, that this city is home to a large number of very able and competent lawyers and law firms."

Abbotsford, to the east of Vancouver, is more than twice the size of the coastal city in square kilometres. Statistics Canada data shows its population grew by five per cent from 2011 to 2016, outpacing the national rate.