York Region will consolidate two provincial courts, a move that will result in substantial savings and reflects the growing preference for court users to access services remotely.
“This strategic decision aims to streamline operations, enhance service delivery and position York Region for future growth,” says York Region Chairman and CEO Wayne Emmerson. “Consolidating our Provincial Offences Act (POA) courts will also result in annual cost savings of approximately $600,000.”
In 1997, municipal governments were given responsibility for administering the POA, including courts and fine collection. Provincial offences include speeding, careless driving, not wearing a seatbelt under the Highway Traffic Act, failing to surrender an insurance card or possessing a false or invalid insurance card under the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act, occupational health and safety and Ministry of the Environment violations, and various parking offences.
York Regional Council approved a staff recommendation to consolidate the POA court facility at 50 High Tech Rd. in Richmond Hill – which has a lease set to expire in 2031 – with the existing court operations at 17150 Yonge St. in Newmarket, which is described as having “ample space and infrastructure.”
Though some services might require residents to visit the Newmarket location, the region says it’s committed to providing a “robust virtual option” to ensure convenient access for those who prefer or require remote assistance. The region reports a 78 per cent decrease in in-person court services over the past five years, reducing the need for physical courtrooms. “By harnessing digital technologies, the Region aims to provide convenient, efficient and accessible services,” it says.
“Early digital initiatives such as hybrid proceedings have successfully transformed the court system, benefiting both residents and stakeholders.” In 2022, York Region Court Services served more than 85,000 people through telephone and in-person appointments. About 41,000 court users received assistance through online services. Additionally, 44,000 charges were resolved, leading to the resolution of 66,233 offences, the region reports.
It will take about a year to consolidate the two sites. The region assures it recognizes the importance of a “smooth transition” and will ensure services remain “accessible and reliable.” It also promises job security for dedicated staff won’t be negatively impacted by the consolidation. For more information on York Region Court Services, how to pay traffic tickets, check the status and book court appointments online, and access forms, resources, disclosures and trial information, visit York.ca/courts.