Young people in the Halifax region (HRM) and in the Cape BretonRegional Municipality (CBRM) who appear in court will now go to acourtroom specially set aside for youths ages 12 to 17 in theProvincial Court in each of those communities. The courtroom consolidation, which comes into effect today, Dec.1, means youth aged 12 to 15 will no longer have their casesheard in the Family Division of the Supreme Court. “A dedicated youth court is a real advantage,” said JusticeMinister Michael Baker. “It also means the Family Division of theSupreme Court can now more appropriately focus on family matters,not criminal cases.” At the Halifax courthouse on Spring Garden Road, the move to aspecialized youth court required renovations to courtroom numberfive, the construction of three new holding cells, upgrades totwo other cells, new interview rooms and a new waiting room foryouth only. Improvements were also made to the ventilationsystem. Total costs are estimated at $225,000. In Sydney, whereall courts operate in the Sydney Justice Centre, no renovationswere required. In rural areas outside HRM and CBRM, youths from 16 to 17 willcontinue to appear in Provincial Court, while youths aged 12 to15 will attend Family Court. In a typical year, nearly 3,000 youth cases are brought beforethe courts in Nova Scotia. On April 1, 2003, the federalgovernment’s new Youth Criminal Justice Act took effect,replacing the Young Offender’s Act. The new legislation is basedon the principle of keeping young offenders separate from adults. “Nova Scotia is known as a safe place to live and raise afamily,” said Mr. Baker. “New approaches to help our young peopleavoid future confrontations can only be seen as positive.” The court services division of the Department of Justice providesadministrative and operational support to all the courts of NovaScotia. It also manages the restorative justice and maintenanceenforcement programs and provides services to help familiesreduce conflict and litigation in legal disputes. For more information on the courts of Nova Scotia, see thewebsite at www.courts.ns.ca .