Ontario Construction News staff writer
The provincial government has decided to pull the plug on the Halton Region Consolidated Courthouse construction project to free up funds to expand the delivery of remote and online justice services – a change in direction motivated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This investment will be repurposed to transform and update Ontario’s severely antiquated justice system, and address immediate infrastructure needs at the courthouses in Milton and Burlington,” Attorney General Doug Downey said on Friday. “Shifting traditional investments toward innovation and new technology will move more services online and position Ontario at the forefront of building the modern justice system of the future.”
Infrastructure Ontario (IO) was administering the procurement process and had been expected to announce the successful proponent this spring, with construction construction starting later this year.
In a statement, IO said that it had notified the proponent teams bidding on the project about its cancellation. They “will receive compensation for their efforts, as outlined in the RFP,” IO said.
“IO will be meeting with teams in the coming days to discuss next steps.”
“We would like to thank the bidding teams for their participation in this process and look forward to continuing our work with industry partners to deliver on more than $60 billion worth of projects highlighted in our Winter 2020 P3 Market Update.”
Late last year, IO said three teams, EllisDon Infrastructure Justice, Escarpment Justice Alliance, and Plenary PCL Justice – were prequalified and invited to respond to a request for proposals in February 2019.
IO said then that the teams were chosen “based on their design, construction, maintenance and financial capacity to deliver a project of this size and scope.”
The new 25-courtroom facility, located on provincially-owned land at William Halton Parkway and Third Line, northwest of the Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital, would have replaced an out-of-date facility in Milton.
“Shifting traditional investments toward innovation and new technology will move more services online and position Ontario at the forefront of building the modern justice system of the future,” Downey said on Friday. “These responsible investments will leave a legacy of transformational benefits to all Ontarians in every region of our province, making it easier, faster and more affordable to access justice no matter where people live.
“This innovative new approach will allow Ontario to take concrete action for the first time in recent memory to support a truly reimagined justice system. It will move Ontario’s justice system forward by decades and allow it to emerge from this public health crisis more resilient and better positioned to face future challenges.
“Our government will engage with justice sector partners, leaders and innovators to develop investment priorities that support new ways of delivering and increasing access to justice that spans the entire sector and province, including rural and remote communities and criminal, civil and family law fields.
“I look forward to sharing the outcomes of these consultations and our government’s transformational vision of a reimagined, 21st century justice system later this summer.
“Ontario’s justice system will become a leader and emerge from this crisis more resilient and better prepared to respond to future challenges in a post COVID-19 environment,” Downey said.