Pilot project for court system being worked on

A pilot project is being worked on for the Vanderhoof court system in an attempt to make it more efficient.

A pilot project is being worked on for the Vanderhoof court system in an attempt to make it more efficient.

At present, Vanderhoof only holds one court date a week on a Monday, which is nowhere near enough for the amount of trials that need to be heard.

“Only about 20 per cent of the charges that are sent to court ever get heard in court…It’s just totally inadequate,” said District of Vanderhoof Mayor Gerry Thiessen.

Many towns across the province are experiencing problems with their court services, but the issue is particularly bad in Vanderhoof and Fort St. James, according to Thieseen.

“Some of the issues in the Fort are different than in Vanderhoof….Fort St. James has more of an issue with RCMP being a limited duration posting where they are transferred out and coming back for court cases,” he said.

“Our issue is we don’t have enough court time…we have less court time then basically any other town our own size, and we have less court time than many towns that are less than half the size of us so it isn’t financially responsible for the government to do this because they’re just wasting a lot of money,” he added.

Director of Court Services for the Northern B.C. Chris Nickerson has been speaking with the Mayor about the issues and is now working on a pilot project for the town with approximately three options of things that may help fix the problem.

Nickerson has said he will come to Vanderhoof to present the ideas to the District.

Thiessen expects to hear back from Nickerson on the matter within two weeks.

“There’s a real need to have a larger presence in our court services than we have here so we will continue to lobby for that,” said Thiessen.