St. Thomas Consolidated Courthouse
To help improve access to justice in southwestern Ontario, the government of Ontario announced today the preferred site for the new St. Thomas consolidated courthouse will be the heritage site of the existing courthouse on Wellington Street. This historical building will be incorporated into the design of the new courthouse.
Preservation of local heritage
The government of Ontario supports the preservation of provincially significant heritage places by actively promoting their identification, conservation and use. While the site selection will help preserve the heritage facility, it will also help ensure that the location meets the needs of Elgin County by:
- Providing supportive, effective and timely justice services for the community.
- Consolidating all court services into one location, in a safe, accessible and secure environment, resulting in more efficient use of resources and a reduction in operational and facilities costs.
The historic St. Thomas courthouse was constructed in 1853 to house both courts and the government offices for the newly formed Elgin County. The St. Thomas courthouse is one of the first of fourteen courthouses built in Ontario in the mid 19th century.
The planning and modernization of the new consolidated courthouse will help support the local economy, providing new jobs and economic development to the St. Thomas region. When the construction is complete, the courthouse will be more economical to run and manage than the two current locations, allowing for more effective use of public funds.
Improved Services and Access
The consolidated courthouse will also mean better access to justice for all of its users. The building is being designed to meet the capacity needs and caseload requirements of the community over the next 25 years. There will be space in the new consolidated courthouse for:
- Seven courtrooms
- Courts administration and filing offices
- Offices for the Crown attorneys
- Counsel services
- Separate and secure circulation routes for the judiciary, in-custody accused and the public
- Holding facilities for in-custody accused
- Court Bureau for the Police Services, and
- Office space for the Victim Witness Assistance Program.
In addition, there will be day offices for the use of external agencies such as Legal Aid Officers, Probation and Parole Officers, and mental health workers. Court users will also benefit from the new court's improved accessibility and high-security features.
The new consolidated courthouse will incorporate energy saving initiatives and green design in the construction of the expanded portion of the building and the retrofit of the existing facility. The design and construction of the base building retrofit will adhere to the guidelines and sustainability principles of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) rating system. The retrofit will reduce the current courthouse's carbon footprint by implementing many of the initiatives outlined in Ontario's Green Energy Act.
Now that the preferred site location has been determined, further due diligence, including a Class Environmental Assessment will be conducted by Ontario Realty Corporation.
Infrastructure Ontario will issue a request for qualifications (RFQ) to identify companies with the development, design, construction, financial, and facilities management capacity to undertake a project of this size and scope. Companies that are short-listed through the RFQ process will then be invited to bid on the project through a request for proposals process. Once bids are received and evaluated by Infrastructure Ontario and the Ministry of the Attorney General, a preferred proponent will be selected and a final agreement will be negotiated. Once the agreement is finalized, construction will commence.
This project will be delivered using the Alternative Financing and Procurement (AFP) model. Under this model, risks associated with the design, construction and financing of complex courthouse projects are transferred to the private sector while the public sector establishes the scope and purpose of the project. AFP allows the government to deliver more infrastructure projects sooner by using private sector expertise.
Infrastructure Ontario will work with the Ministry of the Attorney General to build the courthouse, which will be publicly owned, publicly controlled and publicly accountable.
Infrastructure Ontario is a Crown corporation dedicated to managing some of the province's larger and more complex infrastructure renewal projects - ensuring they are built on time and on budget.