Provincial Offences court staff using city hall as temporary office following highrise fire
Provincial Offences court staff using city hall as temporary office following highrise fire
cbc.ca


Emergency crews respond to a fire at Westcourt Place in downtown Windsor on Nov. 12. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

Staff with the Provincial Offences court for Windsor-Essex have been temporarily relocated to 350 City Hall Square West while officials continue to investigate a parking garage fire that displaced residents and businesses of Westcourt Place.
 
Dana Paladino, deputy city solicitor for the City of Windsor, said there were no court appearances scheduled this week, and that court is scheduled to resume on Monday, Nov. 18.
 
 
"We're in the process of finding temporary court locations for that to occur," she told reporters Thursday morning. 
 
She added that relocated staff are still settling in. "Things are going smoothly, and we have set up a temporary payment area for people who want to come in and pay tickets."
 
Paladino said she's not sure what arrangements have been made by the businesses that occupy approximately 30 commercial offices in Westcourt Place after Tuesday's fire led to the building's evacuation.  
 
"I know that the prosecutors that we have — the Provincial Offences prosecutors — have been able to go back and get some of the files that they need," she said. "We've been able to work with the fire department to get computers and what we need to continue operations."
 
The space set up for court staff at city hall is temporary, but Paladino said staff will "proceed offsite as long as we need to."
"I just might be a matter of logistics and finding another location," she said.
 
In the meantime, commercial tenants, including lawyer Brian Dube, say they're trying to make the best of a difficult situation. 
 
"It difficult to run a business when you're kept from your office," said Dube. "And it's not only me — it's many other lawyers and prosecutors."
 
Still, Dube said he was allowed to temporarily re-enter his office on Wednesday to grab supplies during a three-hour period arranged by city officials for the building's residents and tenants.
 
"The electricity was off, it was dark, smelled of smoke, and there's a layer of soot all over the place," said Dube, adding that there wasn't any physical damage to his office. "It looks like it's going to be a lot of work before we can get it back into shape."
 
Dube said he's not sure the current situation is tenable. 
 
"Long term, I don't know how long this is going to last," he said. "We'll see how it goes."
 
Windsor Fire Chief Stephen Laforet and Jelena Payne, the city's commissioner of community development and health services, also spoke to reporters Thursday.
According to Laforet, city officials are in contact with representatives for the owner of Westcourt Place.
 
Laforet said that the building is running on emergency power and that there's still limited lighting inside. 
 
He described the blaze that broke out in the building's parking garage as a "large loss fire," referring to any fire that causes more than $500,000 in damage. 
Laforet wouldn't speculate on how the fire started.
 
"We try not to speculate on cause until we can actually get in and go through the evidence," he said. "That way, we let the evidence lead to our decision on cause and origin."go through the evidence," he said. "That way, we let the evidence lead to our decision on cause and origin."
 
On Thursday evening, Jason Moore, senior manager of communications and corporate services for the City of Windsor, said that anyone who has a booking at the WFCU Centre this weekend will be accommodated.
 
A generator has also arrived, though it's not clear when it will be up and running.