SAULT STE. MARIE -- An addictions group in Sault Ste. Marie wants to see the recently closed local youth detention centre converted into an addictions treatment facility.

Citizens Helping Addicts and Alcoholics Get Treatment (CHAAT) issued the request in an open letter to Sault MPP Ross Romano on Thursday, after it was announced the Justice Derek Holder House was one of 26 youth justice facilities the government was closing in Ontario.

"It's tragic that this home is being closed," said Jeff Broadbent, a volunteer with CHAAT. "It means that these youth are going to be exported from our community or sent into closed custody, treated like hardened criminals."

Broadbent said there's room and the need for both facilities in the Sault. But with the decision made to close the centre, he said replacing it with an addictions site is better than it sitting empty.

"This community has been without a detox facility for a year now," he said. "Our view is the Justice Derek Holder Centre would be an ideal facility to implement a residential treatment and more comprehensive and coherent program."

Asked if the site would need upgrades to accommodate such a facility, Broadbent said it wouldn't.

"Given the nature of the facility and the infrastructure that's there, it should meet the needs and more than exceed what we had at the old facility that burned."

In a statement to CTV News, the government said it would invest the funds it saves back into communities that have lost their youth justice facilities, to help establish more supports.

Broadbent said he hopes to see that actually happen, in addition to a treatment site in the Sault.