The planned centralization of Toronto’s satellite provincial courts to a new courthouse will make accessing the justice system more difficult, said lawyers and other community activists at a community forum Nov. 28.
The plan by the Ministry of the Attorney General is to close satellite courthouses around Toronto and move their operations, for both youth and adult offenders, to one downtown location at 11 Centre Ave., near Queen Street and University Avenue, by 2021.
The Nov. 28 event — called the Community Forum on the Future of Youth Court in Toronto — was organized by Peacebuilders and the Toronto Lawyers Association, along with community organizations such as the John Howard Society of Toronto, Justice for Children and Youth, the Zero Gun Violence Movement and the Cross-Over Youth Project.
“The court, if it is centralized downtown, will be unreachable for a lot of young people,” said Eva Marszewski, a lawyer, professor and the founder of Peacebuilders, which partners with schools, jails and community organizations to assist economic and socially marginalized youth gain access to the justice system and promote a restorative approach to criminal justice. “What will happen is there will be an increase in absent kids who should be appearing in court. There will be bench warrants. There will be adjournments. There will be increased costs just in terms of the day-to-day administration.”