EDMUNDSTON (GNB) – A sod-turning took place today in Edmundston to mark the official start of construction of an addictions treatment centre in northwestern New Brunswick. Work is expected to be completed in the fall of 2014.

"This facility will enhance the quality of life for New Brunswickers struggling with addiction," said Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Claude Williams. “It will replace aging infrastructure in Edmundston and will double the space available to provide programs and services to patients."

The provincial government awarded a $4.6-million contract to MFA Construction Inc. in Tracadie-Sheila to build the single-storey building on a 0.96-hectare (2.4-acre) property near the Edmundston Regional Hospital.

"The new facility supports our government's goal of providing better access to patient-focused care," said Health Minister Hugh Flemming. "It will improve the accessibility, safety and functionality of the services being offered in Edmundston, and it will provide a better work environment for our employees."

The 12-bed facility will cover 1,842 square metres (19,800 square feet) and offer inpatient and outpatient services in addiction prevention; residential withdrawal management (detoxification); and counselling for individuals and families struggling with substance abuse and gambling.

The building will also include consultation and examination rooms; offices and workrooms for individual, family or group counselling; and administrative space.

The inpatient area will operate 24 hours per day, seven days per week, while the outpatient area will operate eight hours per day, five days per week.

"This ceremony marks the kick-off of a strategic investment in infrastructure in the northwest part of the province," said Paul Couturier, board chair, Vitalité Health Network. "This investment is essential to enable Vitalité Health Network to better meet the needs of patients and to ensure the advancement of health care in the region and throughout the province."

The design of the centre will maximize accessibility and mobility for wheelchair users. Its location next to the regional hospital will enable the two to share resources.

The existing centre is a 110-year-old, residential, three-storey building that no longer meets space requirements or current building standards.

A new centre was announced in the Department of Health's 2012-13 capital budget. The cost is $6.7 million. The architect is Ronald Lapointe Architecte inc. of Edmundston.