Batshaw proposes $50 million Beaconsfield youth centre

Potential zoning changes contentious
By Robert Frank

Mayor David Pollock has confirmed that Batshaw Youth and Family Centres submitted a proposal, Dec. 21, for a massive development of their property on Elm, north of Highway 20, in Beaconsfield.

“There is a proposal,” Mayor Pollack told The Suburban in an exclusive interview following a special city council meeting, Jan. 21. “They [originally] presented their ideas back in 2011, but said that they were several years away.”

“I recently had discussions with someone at Portage [drug addition rehabilitation centre for English-speaking youth] and they said that they have received a three-year notice,” he continued, “so I think you can get a real sense here what the timetable is.”

“We’ve had some stuff on paper about what they are looking at doing and at one point they were looking at finishing it in 2017.”

Mayor Pollock and several councilors speculated that Batshaw was spurred by a stalemate at its facility in Dorval, where it faces opposition to its plans to develop a youth detention facility there.

“They’ve had money for decades to put together a building and they have been going through some issues in Dorval,” he said. “They wanted to put in a higher [security] facility there. [The youth facility that they have proposed building in Beaconsfield] is lesser, for sure.”

A Batshaw spokeswoman told The Suburban that the officials concerned would be unavailable to discuss their project before the newspaper went to press.

Densification worries
Zoning changes that the facility would need are already raising ire.

“My understanding is that [Batshaw’s] current plan would not conform to the zoning that is in place there right now,” Mayor Pollock acknowledged, “but that might be able to be addressed, to make it conform.”

Councilor Rhonda Massad, who represents District 6, told The Suburban that she wants to know why members of city council were not informed of Batshaw’s intentions.

“I contacted Batshaw myself and was assured that it was not to be a lockdown facility,” she said. She added that, during an information meeting about proposed zoning changes, “resident Ike Partington asked whether or not there would be any changes along Elm. The answer from the mayor was that there were no changes. I asked the question at a later date and was told by the mayor and by city planning chief Denis Chabot that there were no plans to change anything in that zone.”

“I am not opposed to Batshaw imporoving its facilities to help the youth in our area. That needs to be done.

“I am concerned because Beaconsfield’s democratically elected representatives need to know about this. Since they met Batshaw in May 2011, why is it a secret? Why didn’t citizens and council know about it? It’s like trying to hide an elephant.”

“During my mandate it’s the single-biggest development that Beaconsfield has ever seen, because it’s upward of $50 million,” observed Massad, who announced last year that she plans to run for mayor during elections in November. “We’ve spent more time at council talking about garage extensions or adding one foot to someone’s driveway than we have ever spent on this.”

The brief, Dec. 21 special city council meeting did not address the Batshaw development. It was convened solely to pass a single notice of motion to correct a typographic error in the notice of the new tax rate that for buildings containing six or more dwellings. Mayor Pollock said that the tax measure will be put to a vote during the next regular council meeting, Jan. 28.

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