SUDBURY -- In a news release Thursday morning, the Ontario government announced the Children's Treatment Centre (CTC) at Sudbury's Health Sciences North is being relocated to the Southridge Mall in the South End of the city.

The treatment centre will be moving into the space at the mall formerly occupied by Zellers or more recently Treasure Hunt, and will be specifically designed for kids, Sudbury hospital said in a news release.

“It will be a beautiful space,” said Natalie Kennedy, administrative director for NEO Kids and Family Programs at HSN. “We will have a larger gym and additional therapy space. It will also be custom designed with input received from our patients and families including artwork featuring plants and animals native to northern Ontario. There will be a uniquely colourful wayfinding solution inspired by the rainbow-coloured homes and buildings reminiscent of the East Coast.”

It is being moved due to lack of space at the hospital and officials have spent almost a year looking for a suitable new location.

The province is providing funding to help with the relocation, including the infant and child development services, where there will be a dedicated rehabilitation space for children and youth experiencing challenges with their motor skills, mobility and communication development.

"This investment will support Northern Ontario families and children with special needs by addressing the unique challenges they face. The new custom-built site will provide a larger space for therapy and activity while continuing to offer the range of vital services and programs needed to support a child's ability to participate as fully as possible at home, in school and in the community," said Todd Smith, Ontario's minister of Children, Community and Social Services.

The new site at the mall will continue to provide community-based and school-based rehabilitation services as well as house several programs.

Health Sciences North's Transition Planning Steering Committee includes parents, school board representatives and community members, and unanimously recommended the Southridge Mall.

"This relocation is the result of extensive consultations with families, staff and partners in our community. Our planning continues to prioritize a smooth transition with minimal service disruption and we look forward to welcoming children and families at the new site," said Dominic Giroux, president and CEO of the hospital.

Money was raised for the centre by United Steelworkers Local 6500 between 2003 and 2012 in a campaign that saw a penny from every hour worked by a union member set aside for the treatment centre. A total of $500,000 was raised.

"The United Steelworkers Local 6500 are long-time supporters of the Children’s Treatment Centre and we participated in the initial effort to get this great facility located here in Sudbury,” said Nick Larochelle, the local chapter's president. “On behalf of USW Local 6500, let me say how excited we are for the announcement of this new location. Today’s news is a win-win for the children and their families of the CTC, as well as for the patients and families of HSN from across Northeastern Ontario.”

Total capital costs will be released following the tendering process, said the hospital and renovations at the mall are expected to be completed by summer of 2021.

Reimagining new uses for vacant retail space is something that several malls in Sudbury are considering.

Hanmer Valley Shopping Centre is repurposing some of its space for new residential units.

The space at the hospital will be used to add up to 52 new beds that the province has promised to pay for, in an attempt to address the chronic overcrowding problem.

Sudbury children's treatment centre is one of 21 across the province.

More details to come.