A milestone groundbreaking for the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre

Officials break ground on the new Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre in Carp, Ont. (Dave Charbonneau/CTV News Ottawa)

The Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre broke ground on its brand new treatment facility in Carp, Ont.

In attendance, Hunter Knight who knows too well about addiction.

"I struggled with a lot of mental health issues," says Knight. "It got in my head, led to substance use. I was addicted to cocaine for about two years." 

When Knight was 17 years old, he entered the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre. He’s now been clean for seven years.

"It was definitely tough at first," says Knight. "But then I started to really see the value in what the treatment centre program was doing for me."

Now, a brand new facility is set to be built and completed by the fall of 2023. Shovels hitting the ground on Wednesday in the first step in an important project that is highly needed.

"It’s been a long time in the making. We’re just super appreciative for everybody who’s been involved to make today happen," says executive director Mike Beauchesne. "We know that the mental health and addiction issues that youth were facing prior to the pandemic were extremely significant. And the pandemic has only exasperated those issues."

Ottawa police interim Chief Steve Bell is also a board chair for the treatment centre. 

"This is a great step," says Bell. "From a policing perspective it’s super important for our community, for me as a member of this community, to have something like this built."

Dave Smiths widow, Darlene Smith, says she couldn’t be happier that this is finally happening and knows her late husband would be proud.

"Before he died I took an imprint of his thumb, and I have it here. And I said to Dave, a year from now, when this building is up, and that red ribbon is here, I’ll have my hand on this thumb of his and our hands will be held together we’ll cut that ribbon," said Smith.

For those struggling with addiction, a message from someone who has gone through it before.

"Don’t be shy to speak up when you’re struggling," says Knight. "That was probably the hardest thing. Once you get past that it gets easier from there." 

The treatment centre will help thousands of youth overcome substance abuse, mental health issues, and other challenges related to achieving a healthy lifestyle.