Morrisburg court to remain open

·3 min read

SDG – Even though it is currently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Morrisburg Provincial Offences Court will remain in the village. The court, which is operated by SDG Counties under a shared services agreement with the City of Cornwall, is one of two satellite courts outside of Cornwall.

Morrisburg’s court is located in the South Dundas Justice Building on Fifth Street in space leased from the Municipality of South Dundas. That lease expires at the end of the year.

Counties Director of Finance/Treasurer Rebecca Russell asked councillors at the November 16th Counties Council meeting if SDG should renew the lease for the satellite court.

The Morrisburg court is currently closed to the public as the space used is small and cannot accommodate court operations with the physical distancing measures in place because of the pandemic. Court operations are proceeding in Cornwall or remotely. Pre-pandemic there were 10 court sessions per year in Morrisburg, and the lease costs $6,000 per year.

Councillor Jamie MacDonald (North Glengarry) said that the Morrisburg lease should be renewed.

“It’s a very small price to pay for 10 court sessions in each of these locations,” he said. Alexandria’s satellite court was recently renewed. “We are SD and G Counties and providing that service to people in North Dundas and North Glengarry at those locations is more convenient. The amount of money we are talking about is relatively small for that service.”

Councillor Steven Byvelds (South Dundas) corrected MacDonald that the court was South Dundas rather than North Dundas.

Byvelds said that South Dundas council had discussed the lease renewal already and is open to a new lease so long as it was stipulated that the lease payments were made regardless if the court was used or not.

“That’s the fair way that is being done, and it’s what’s being done in Alexandria,” he said.

Byvelds said he was open to finding efficiencies and that the video/audio court sessions that are currently in use will provide some of that.

“However, I’m not going to give up the Morrisburg court if Alexandria’s is going to stay around, so it’s either all or none,” Byvelds said of the satellite courts.

Councillor Tony Fraser (North Dundas) supported keeping the two courts open.

“These are SDG courts. They need to remain in SDG,” he said. “It is a very small price to pay for convenience for the residents of SDG.”

Council directed staff to proceed with renewing the lease, which will be tabled at the December Counties Council meeting.

Golden anniversary for SDG Library system

Fifty years ago last week, on November 20th, 1970, the SDG Counties Council of the day passed the bylaw that created the County Library system. Karen Franklin, Director of Library Services for the library told Counties Council at its November 18th meeting that the library system will celebrate its golden anniversary all next year.

“Throughout 2021, we plan to celebrate where the Library started and where we are now,” said Franklin. “Various special events and celebrations are being planned.”

The system was formed at the request of many municipalities within SDG at the time including the Village of Morrisburg and Williamsburg Township. Matilda Township and the Village of Iroquois joined the system later on.

The SDG Library system is one of only a few county-wide libraries in Eastern Ontario.

“I think we’ve made a good model for others,” said councillor Steven Byvelds (South Dundas) in support of the SDG Library system. “I think we have a system that works well.”

Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Leader