FREDERICTON (GNB) – A sod-turning was held today to mark the official beginning of construction of a new courthouse in Fredericton.

The chief justice of New Brunswick, J. Ernest Drapeau, took part in the event at the Centennial Building, the future site of the courthouse.

“The construction of this state-of-the-art facility is creating local jobs and contributing to a vibrant downtown,” said deputy premier Stephen Horsman. “It is also providing a much-needed new home for Fredericton’s court services.”

Horsman spoke on behalf of Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Bill Fraser.

The courthouse construction is part of a $76-million restoration of the Centennial Building. The King Street facade of the office building will be restored. The back wing, which extends toward Brunswick Street, will be replaced with a new five-storey courthouse.

“The Centennial Building is a landmark in downtown Fredericton,” said Horsman. “I am pleased to be part of a government that is restoring our iconic buildings and investing in modern infrastructure.”

Construction started during the summer and the courthouse is expected to open in 2020, with the Centennial Building restoration expected to be complete in 2021.

Strategic infrastructure investments are a key element of the New Brunswick Economic Growth Plan, the government’s framework to move the economy forward.