Massad, Demers, Essen unhappy about Pollock’s discretion on Batshaw project
Beaconsfield councillors Rhonda Massad (pictured), Pierre Demers and Karin Essen decried the lack of transparency within council last Monday at the council meeting. Photo by François Lemieux.
Controversy arose from the Beaconsfield council meeting last Monday as three councillors expressed their dissatisfaction about not having been informed of what is possibly the biggest development project to ever come to the city, the new Batshaw Youth and Family Services centre for troubled youth to be built on Elm Street.
The nine 12-bed units building for troubled youth which is set to be completed by 2016 is evaluated at around $55 million. It is going to be built on a property currently owned by Batshaw on the land on which Portage currently operates its drug rehabilitation centre. The first phase of the project (two bed units) evaluated at $5 million should be completed by the end of 2014.
Batshaw first mentioned to the urban planning department that a project was in the plans in May 2011. Pollock was informed but did not tell council right away. On Dec. 17, Batshaw applied for a building permit. Pollock justified not telling council about the project in May 2011 by mentioning it was too much of a long-term project.
“It was a project that was three to five years away: a project that might happen or not happen. Governments in five years can do all sorts of things. It just seemed like they (Batshaw) were floating an idea about what they were doing,” he said.
Even though she agrees with the project, councillor Rhonda Massad feels this is symptomatic that there is a lack of transparency in Beaconsfield.
“There is a lack of transparency. I'm not comfortable making decisions. I'm doing my best but we're not properly informed. The mayor doesn't see fit to inform council. He wants to run the show by himself. I only learned of this Jan. 7. I should have received this information in May 2011,” she said.
Councillors Pierre Demers and Karin Essen also disapprove of Pollock’s attitude and voiced their opinions last Monday.
“I don't have any issues with the project itself. What I do have issues with is that we found out about a project of this size, which could potentially be one of the largest projects Beaconsfield has known, and the mayor knew about it and told me he deemed it wasn't important enough to tell his council as we were going through discussions on rezoning last fall. This is a significant project and we should have been told,” he said.
“The mayor is our liaison on this council. All the information technically is coming from the mayor. If he decides to not share that information with us and frankly for reasons that are not very apparent… Because three to five years is not a long time at all: it's not long-term, it's very short and medium term so definitely, it should have been important that all of us know about this,” said Essen.