Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay's new courthouse officially open

Justice Helen Pierce added a touch of ceremony before hearing her first case.
The new Thunder Bay courthouse opened for business on a foggy Monday morning. (Josh Lynn/CBC)

After three years of construction, Thunder Bay's new courthouse officially opened for business on Monday.

The facility at Miles and Brodie Streets brings cases heard at the Superior Court and the Ontario Court of Justice — located at opposite ends of the city — under one roof.

Before hearing the first Superior Court matter at the building Monday morning, Justice Helen Pierce began with a bit of ceremony. 

"[Justice Pierce] said when they launch a ship they say 'Bless this ship and all her sail in her'," said crown attorney Dan Mitchell. "She pronounced the same blessing for the courthouse."

Mitchell said he was pleased with the Thunder Bay judiciary's newly-constructed home. "Quite frankly I think this building elevates the spirit, with the light and the spaciousness."

The staircase is a prominent feature of the courthouse atrium. (Josh Lynn/CBC)

Two storeys of courtrooms and offices surround a large open atrium, with skylights in the ceiling.

Defence lawyer George Joseph said the new courthouse's security procedures make it more difficult for attorneys to speak privately with their clients. 

"It's going to require adjustment on how we do business here," he said. 

But Joseph added he was looking forward to working in the building.  

"I'm impressed by the technological aspects of it," he said. "For example, lawyers can plug in their laptops to the desks and project what's on the screen for the judge and the jury and members of the audience."

The new courthouse also features airport-style security screening, including metal detectors and X-rays. Thunder Bay police are responsible for courthouse security.  

Inspector Dan Taddeo, commander for the police court services branch, said the first day was going well, except for "a few speed bumps," including some elevator glitches first thing in the morning. 

"It wasn't so much that they were stuck," Taddeo said. "Everything needed basically a reboot. But, everything's operating fine." 

The future of the old court buildings on Camelot Street and Arthur Street still has not been decided, according to Infrastructure Ontario, the agency managing the properties for the provincial government.  A spokesperson told CBC News the agency would continue to maintain them. 





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