Toronto City Council voted to join the Society of United Professionals and other groups in calling on the provincial government to halt courthouse closures in North York, Etobicoke and Scarborough.
With a new downtown courthouse under construction, the provincial government is planning to consolidate six courthouses into just two courthouses. As the Society, the Ontario Crown Attorneys Association, OPSEU and others have warned, closing local courthouses would be detrimental to the ability of communities to access justice and related community services.
The motion at Toronto City Council was moved by Councillor James Pasternak and seconded by Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson. It received overwhelming support, including from Mayor John Tory.
The three-part motion included:
- City Council express its objections to the closure of neighbourhood court houses and send a copy of its decision to the Attorney General of Ontario, objecting to the amalgamation to the New Toronto Courthouse.
- City Council request the City Manager, in consultation with the City Solicitor, to report to the Executive Committee by June 1, 2021 on the impacts of the closure of local court houses, such report to include how the court amalgamation will impact local businesses and access to justice for those living with disabilities.
- City Council request the City Solicitor to send a letter to the Attorney General of Ontario, objecting to the amalgamation to the New Toronto Courthouse.
While the motion adopted at Toronto City Council does not change the status of the province’s plans, it continues to demonstrate to the provincial government that reducing court services in Toronto’s inner suburbs is an unpopular initiative. The Society will continue to press the government to adopt a modified consolidation plan that maintains community courthouses.