A $33.5-million dollar renovation to Surrey’s courthouse that started three years ago is finally complete.

Three new courtrooms have been added to the building, including a high-security courtroom equipped with a bullet-proof barrier for special-situation trials. They have also doubled the capacity for holding prisoners awaiting court.

Attorney General David Eby and other dignitaries cut a ceremonial ribbon Friday, but some of the renovation features had been in use before the event. Upgrades to the front entrance were finished in 2018. The entrance was redesigned and metal detectors were installed.

“The Surrey courthouse has one of the largest caseloads in the province, and this expansion project will help deliver a court system that is able to hear and resolve these cases in a timely manner,” Eby said.

The overall project was supposed to be completed in 2018, but was delayed because of design problems.

“One of the issues was that the previous government hadn’t mocked up the courtroom and gone through with court staff to make sure it would work properly in order to save money,” Eby said. ”This resulted in a delay in opening because we had to reconfigure some of the benches to ensure the judges had proper line of sight.”

The new courtrooms have been outfitted with video conference equipment and height-adjustable work stations. In a tour of one of the new facility, Judge Robert Hamilton touted the benefits of a new digital evidence presentation system.

In the old system, for someone to describe on a map what route they took, “they would sit here with a piece of paper in their hand and turn it around and show it to everybody, and then we’d have to mark it on our own,” he said. But now, they can now draw it on a touch screen that everyone in the court can see, and it can even be printed out.

The expanded courthouse will also have a new Justice Access Centre designed to address family and civil, non-family issues.