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Partial power returned to law courts' south tower, no timeline for full restoration: infrastructure minister


While the south tower of Edmonton Law Courts will be partially back in business on Tuesday, the ongoing impact of a power outage signals the need for a new building, says one criminal defence lawyer.

Tuesday marked one week since the south tower lost power.

Over the weekend, repair teams installed and tested new temporary high voltage cabling throughout the building, a transformer and other equipment, setting up the building to host some Court of King's Bench matters, Infrastructure Minister Nathan Neudorf told CTV News Edmonton on Monday.

However, crews are still working to find the cause of the problem and there is no timeline for full electrical restoration, he said.


Danielle Boisvert, the president of the Criminal Trial Lawyers Association, told CTV News Edmonton lawyers have not been told if any matters will be delayed beyond this week, but that the situation has caused "a lot of chaos and confusion" and renewed attention on several issues.

"It's indicative of the larger problem with the Edmonton courthouse, which is that it is now 50 years old, that it is at capacity, that it has outgrown its usefulness as a courthouse for the capital of our very large province and ever-growing province," she said.

According to Boisvert, she and her colleagues have little space at Edmonton Law Courts to meet confidentiality with clients and hold meetings and seminars, and have long experienced wifi and cellular connectivity.

Additionally, she called the courthouse a poor reflection of Alberta's capital city and its economy.

"A courthouse is absolutely one of the foundational buildings in a civil society. It is located right next to city hall for a reason. It is the grounding touchstone, the physical embodiment, of the rule of the law and of the openness of the justice system and the access the public should have to that system. So when ours is as shabby as it is, and as concrete as it is, it doesn't invite people in," Boisvert said.

"Other lawyers coming to work in our courthouse – even those just coming up from Calgary – are baffled."


The justice ministry has already begun exploring its options to revamp Edmonton Law Courts after the Treasury Board approved funding for a business case, Neudorf said on Monday.

"The business case will make recommendations regarding various options, including consideration of whether to renovate or expand the current law court building, build a new facility, or a combination of both," the infrastructure minister said in a statement.

The work is expected to be finished in October.

"If I can call it the straw that broke the camel's back, I hope this is that straw," Boisvert commented.

"We're bursting at the seams."

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Kyra Markov Top Stories

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