Virden Town Council continues to try new tactics to get the provincial court office in the Municipal Building reopened.
Its latest idea, approved at last Tuesday evening’s regular council meeting, is to ask affected municipalities and First Nations communities in southwest Manitoba to write to the Justice Minister and add their voices to the conversation.
Town Councillor Tina Williams, chair of the committee, said, “We have met with representatives from Justice and not gotten any results, so we felt it was worth stressing that this is an area issue not just a Virden issue.”
“When Virden RCMP members have to attend the Brandon court office, it is time away from our community that we (the Town) are paying for.”
And that’s not the only cost to taxpayers. The Manitoba government pays the Town of Virden more than $33,000 a year, according to Williams, to rent the courthouse and office -- space that sits empty and unused. (The courtroom itself, which doubles as council chambers, is still used most Fridays when court officials from Brandon come to Virden to hear cases.)
Council and many in the community are growing frustrated that efforts to date have fallen on deaf ears. Justice officials have told them the problem is a lack of qualified candidates applying for the job. But as Virden councillors point out, the job hasn’t been advertised in months for unknown reasons.
The court office used to be managed by one person who looked after the daily business of the court like processing fines and traffic tickets, managing small claims, swearing documents, and administrative duties.
Virden Council has pressed justice officials for action on numerous occasions and even met in person to point out the hardship and additional costs to RCMP, fine payers and others on court business having to travel to Brandon.