Child-protection agency needs the land to house West Island youth
Beaconsfield Portage drug and alcohol rehab centre – a non-profit organization that helps people suffering from substance abuse – will have to move after Batshaw announced that they are taking back the building located at 141 Elm Street in Beaconsfield. Batshaw wants to offer housing places to pre-teens and teens that are from the West Island.
© (TC Media photo - Stephanie Alcaraz Robinson)
Batshaw Youth and Family Services has announced they will officially be taking back the land at 141 Elm Street in Beaconsfield, with plans to demolish the buildings on the property and build new ones. The project is expected to be complete by June 2015.
Batshaw executive director Leslie Hill knows what Portage is going through. “We actually tried to find a new building, but it was too difficult to relocate,” she said. Batshaw tried to find a site in Montreal where they could build a 12-unit campus to house kids that come from the West Island. After years of searching, they decided to build a new campus where Portage is.
“Portage has been there for 13 years and are very good partners of ours,” she stressed, saying that they have a lot of the same kids. Batshaw had previously been welcoming kids and teenagers in a Laurentian campus in Prévost, “a very old building that’s almost falling down,” according to Hill. Being so far away from home for West Islanders, Batshaw decided to move to accommodate kids and their families.
The idea is bringing the kids back home – reuniting them with family, ensuring a better integration in the community and access to easier public transportations. "We have 60 kids in Prévost that are literally alienated from their families and community," Hill said. Their inability to attend their own schools and get summer jobs, for example, are mortgaging their future, according to Hill.
Hill stated that these kids are not criminals but rather youth in difficulty. "We have so many kids that are suicidal or self-harming," she deplored. Most of them are under the Youth Protection Act and not the Youth Criminal Act. 84 per cent of Batshaw's clients are from the West Island.
"It is supported by research that if you want to rehabilitate a kid, it has to be in their community," said Hill. The campus that is presently housed at 141 Elm Street is slated to be demolished – the permit has been issued already.
The project is going to be deployed on two different sites in Beaconsfield. The first two units are projected to be open and functional in June 2015. Phase two – Beaconsfield's new campuses -- would start immediately after.
"I feel greatly for the Portage units, because it is very important what they are doing with the kids. But at the same time, I can't compromise our kids out there in the Laurentians," Hill said.