Beaconsfield residents came out in force at last week's council meeting to get answers about a proposed new Batshaw Youth and Family Services building on Elm Avenue. Council revealed in January it was studying a proposal for a new, $50-million building as well as a request to demolish the existing housing unit on the property, currently being used by the Portage Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Centre. The project would house about 108 teens between the ages of 12 and 18. A Batshaw representative has asserted that the Beaconsfield facility would not be a lockdown facility – like the one the Supreme Court of Canada recently ruled could be built in Dorval, against the wishes of council and nearby residents – but yet, resistance persists.
Batshaw must find someplace to house the kids – most having been removed from troubled homes – after announcing their Shawbridge residence would be closed and its residents relocated, in 2008. It's similar to the opposition that surrounded the arrival of the Portage Centre when it was first opened on the propertyin 2001. Portage officials have already been advised that they will have to pull up stakes, but would a larger facility (Portage is currently home to 28 residents) mean more problems? It's possible that increased traffic and more teenagers loitering in the area, but the presence of teenagers doesn't automatically mean more trouble. We're willing to wait and see what the final project will look like, but it appears as though many Beaconsfield Citizens Association members aren't. They're calling on council to make the impact studies currently being prepared by the city public – and we have to agree. Let Batshaw and Beaconsfield show all their cards – and let council make an informed decision on whether or not to allow the current building to be demolished to make way for something bigger.