Thursday, July 06, 2006
The missing Parksville Court House
Let me repeat here that I phoned the Victoria Court Registry Enquiries (250) 356-1478 expecting to find out the date on which the trial of Basi, Young, & Duncan would begin. I was told that this information couldn't be given over the telephone (why not? I wondered). The correct procedure was for me to appear at the Court House and use their computer to ask the question. When I told her I was in Parksville, she said very clearly, "Then go to the Parksville Court House." I thanked her, and set off to find this place. I told you about finding its doors locked, despite the hours of business painted clearly on the glass doors ... not to mention an ominous warning (painted in the same dignified font) about not taking knives and guns into the Court House.
To make a fresh start this morning I arrived early at the Parksville Court House and although the lights were on inside the reception area, the doors remained locked. A car horn honked at the curb. A nice lady (and Bailey, why is it always "nice ladies" who come to my rescue??) called out, "They're not here yet, but they're coming."
Then she said, still at the wheel of her pick-up truck, "Are you here about the lease on this building?"
Me: No. I'm here because ... [well, you know the story ...]
Through gales of loud laughter, my new friend explained that "The Parksville Court House had been closed for FIVE years! The nearest Court House is in Nanaimo."
"Wouldn't you think," my voice was rising, "that in 5 bloody years somebody could've put a note on the door?"
Her voice was rising, too. "The whole thing just makes me furious," she said. "We need our Court House ..." and she rhymed off several other government services which no longer had a Parksville address ... a town which is growing. Crime here is also growing. The Harleys cruise through town every evening between 10:00 and 11:00 PM. The sirens never sleep.
She looked at me, disappointed. "I thought you were here to negotiate the lease with us." Nope, not me.
Together, we denounced the forces of chaos tearing at this province. And wished each other well. But as we talked, I had been watching men at work erecting a 9-storey building just below the old Island Hall. It seemed to be made of plywood. Plywood. The empty Court House was solid brick.