Minister of Justice and Attorney General Shirley Bond announces funding for a Lower Fraser Valley Courts Regional Plan as Abbotsford MLA Mike de Jong looks on.

UPDATE: Abbotsford to develop regional courts plan

City receives $600,000 to work on court improvement plan for the Fraser Valley. A total of $1.8 million has been set aside for the plan.

Abbotsford has received a $600,000 grant from the provincial government to develop a long-term expansion plan for courtrooms for Lower Fraser Valley communities.

The announcement was made Tuesday morning at the Abbotsford courthouse.

Minister of Justice and Attorney General Shirley Bond said there are plans to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the Lower Fraser Valley Courts Regional Plan with mayors from Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Langley, Township of Langley and Surrey, pending final council approvals.

The plan will be a collaborative project among the five municipalities and the province.

Abbotsford has been designated to administer the $600,000 grant from the Ministry of Citizens’ Services and Open Government to identify courtroom expansion needs and solutions in the region.

The plan will examine factors such as space and facility needs, increasing courtroom pressures and demands, and growing populations in each area.

Another $800,000 in operating funds and $400,000 in capital funds will also be invested in developing courthouse design guidelines and a business case for the recommended projects once the study is complete, bringing the total investment to $1.8 million.

Recommendations are expected by December.

Abbotsford Mayor Bruce Banman said the focus of the plan is to do what’s “best for the region” to improve court services.

The city has had a new justice centre on its priority projects list for years and Banman said Tuesday’s announcement could be a step towards that.

Currently, Abbotsford has a provincial court, Chilliwack has a provincial court as well as a Supreme Court, and Surrey has a provincial court. There is no court facility in Langley.

While most of the dignitaries at the announcement – including Abbotsford-West MLA Mike de Jong and representatives from the participating cities – expressed excitement about the plan, Abbotsford-South MLA John van Dongen said he was disappointed by the announcement of yet another “regional” study delaying implementation of a decision that was made years ago.

“The studies have been done. It’s time to get on with the job.”

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