03/19/2015 05:53 EDT | Updated 05/19/2015 05:59 EDT

Surrey Courthouse, B.C.'s busiest court, gets $24.3M expansion by 2017

The Surrey Courthouse, the busiest provincial court in B.C., will get a $24.3 million expansion by late 2017, Suzanne Anton, attorney general and minister of justice, said Thursday.

Three courtrooms and two hearing rooms will be added to the courthouse, which has the largest criminal caseload in the province.

"Government recognizes the pressures on courthouse facilities resulting from the rapid growth of the lower Fraser Valley's population," said Anton.

"These improvements will help ensure timely access to justice for British Columbians by alleviating delays caused by caseload backlogs."

Additional judges and staff will be needed and the number of positions will be decided at a later date.

Anton also announced her desire to see the creation of an Integrated Services Network, a one-stop shop for all agencies involved in the delivery of programs and services aimed at reducing crime in Surrey.

Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner welcomed the idea of creating such a network.

"This means that cases involving mental health, health and family matters, will be referred to timely support services," she said.

The call for the construction tender will go out in late 2015, with building expected to begin in January.