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Justice delayed is justice denied, it's often said - and in the case of Squamish, justice has been delayed for the past four years.

Justice delayed is justice denied, it's often said - and in the case of Squamish, justice has been delayed for the past four years.

That black mark will hopefully come to an end on Monday with an announcement that we strongly suspect will be the reopening of court services in Squamish.

Is it right to be happy? It's certainly good news.

But it's sadder still that doing the right thing took so long.

The closure of the Squamish provincial courthouse, one of 23 smaller courts across the province, was announced on what became known as "Black Thursday" in January 2002, and finally took place after a last-ditch effort to get a circuit court functioning in August 2002. It has been a nightmare for citizens seeking justice and local law enforcement and legal professionals who help administer it ever since.

Victims of crime, families who needed to use family court or citizens who wanted to use small claims courts have been forced to make the journey to North Vancouver to seek justice. Add to that the time and expense of sending RCMP officers for four hours at a time to make 10-minute court appearances for mundane matters like speeding ticket disputes and you have a painful, inefficient and frankly dangerous situation for this community.

There's also the concept that not only must justice be done, it must be seen being done to be effective. Because of the closure of the courthouse, two of the highest-profile criminal cases ever seen in Squamish - Ryan Aldridge and Ryan MacMillan's trials in the death of Bob McIntosh - played out in North Vancouver instead.

Justice was served in both cases, but the community, which was affected by the case for years, never got the chance to see it happen - unless they were able to make the trek to the city. Justice isn't just about dollars and cents; it's about safety, security and yes, closure for the victims - in this case, for a community which lived under the shadow of an unpunished killer in our midst for so long.

Access to an effective justice system is one of the fundamental freedoms necessary to a democratic society. Moving court services more than 60 km away has effectively blocked access to that service for those who can't afford the time and the expense.

Back in 2002 when the decision was made, it was easier for the provincial government to hide behind a wall of red ink and claim that it couldn't afford to provide such a necessary service here in Squamish.

That excuse has been gone for years. With the books well in the black, there is no valid reason for justice to continue to be so far away from the people of the Sea to Sky corridor.

If and when the Attorney General comes up to Squamish and announces the reopening of the courthouse, one of the first questions we'll be asking is: what took so long?