nb-new-courthouse

The new Moncton courthouse is scheduled to open Monday. (CBC)

Moncton's new courthouse is scheduled to open Monday, 2½ years late and costing almost twice the original estimate.

The building was slated to open in May 2008 at a cost of $27 million, but wound up costing more than $50 million.

The courthouse was built in a public-private partnership arrangement with the Province of New Brunswick.

Citigroup Properties constructed the building and is responsible for operating and maintaining it. The city will lease the building for 30 years at $7.1 million a year.

Michel Boudreau, the head sheriff in Moncton, said Thursday that the new courthouse will mark a vast improvement over the existing one in terms of security, starting with a metal detector at the front door.

Boudreau said it will be safer for everyone.

"It's hard to put a dollar amount on people's security and safety. How far do we go to ensure that justice is served and to make sure that people are safe?" he said. "It just seemed to be getting worse and worse. People were trying to bring in contraband, knives, weapons of all sorts." 

The building has more than 140 security cameras and more than 170 individual panic alarms. There are three separate entrances into the courtrooms — one each for judges, defendants and the public.

That means they won't bump into each other in the hallways, as they did in the old Moncton courthouse.

"To have somebody walk through the corridors and have the victim three or four feet from them, or just have the general public there — to avoid any type of incident to happen, we were putting our officers at risk, we were putting the public at risk," said Boudreau.

More courtrooms

It is bigger than the old courthouse, too, with 15 courtrooms and two hearing rooms. David Leger, regional director of court services for the department of justice, said judges will no longer have problems booking a courtroom.

"It should go a long way in helping in any backlogs we may have had in regards to cases being heard, there's no doubt about it," he said.