Just between us


Do you think Batshaw should build a locked juvenile detention facility in Dorval?

Will Batshaw Family Services succeed in going ahead with plans to build a locked facility for young offenders in Dorval?

The answer to that question now rests with the Supreme Court of Canada. The country’s highest court will decide whether to hear a challenge filed by the city of Dorval to a lower court ruling that has given the green light to the social services agency to build what is essentially a jail for juvenile offenders in the commercial and residential heart of the municipality.

It’s an interesting case that has been almost 10 years in the making. And it is one that many municipalities in the country will be watching.

There are many issues involved in the dossier: zoning, access, neighbours’ rights, safety, a municipality’s right to impose restrictions. And then there is the big picture: How does a society attempt to rehabilitate not only juveniles who have broken the law, but youths who, due to a wide range of circumstances, have fallen victim to abuse, neglect and exploitation?

I would like to raise two questions for discussion:

1. Both functions – rehabilitating juveniles who have broken the law and those who have suffered some form of abuse – are important services. But why do we need to lump them together in one facility?


2. Why does either of these services have to be provided in the centre of town?

The second question is raised because as this case has developed, the city of Dorval has attempted to work with Batshaw to find an alternative location for the agency’s locked facility, but negotiations have failed.

One final note. If either of the answers to these questions comes down to money, and more precisely, the lack thereof, perhaps that is what this public debate should be about.

I look forward to your comments.

Brenda O’Farrell


  1. By Cetin Gurz

    I never seen and heard a locked juvenile facility(jail) in the heart of a town, especially a town like Dorval, window of the Quebec to the world, because the largest airport located here. For me even to discuss such a absurd project for so long time is aimless and usefull to spend public money and time for nothing.

  2. By D. Mitchell

    I can understand that certain citizens might be afraid of having youngsters who have misbehaved in their environment. But I do not understand, nor do I accept the position of the city of Dorval. I believe they have consciously misled their population and their attitude has been disgraceful and unethical.

    Adolescents who have made delinquent acts have been treated differently from adults in most civilized societies for the past 100 years. The United Nations have encouraged all countries to adopt principles requiring that adolescents should be treated for what they are, that is, persons in development. To assimilate those youngsters to criminals and to qualify has a prison the location where they should be helped is despicable.

    We should always have faith in the possibility for those youngsters to evolve into respectful citizens. That is why we need to keep them close to their environment. We need to include them in the community, not to exclude them. Rejection by their own community is the surest path to more problems.
    The authorities of Dorval have lacked leadership in that issue. They have stirred fear and prejudice. For that they should be blamed.

    • By Frustrated!

      “I can understand that certain citizens might be afraid of having youngsters who have misbehaved in their environment.” These are not youngsters that have misbehaved. I really do not understand WHERE you get your information. Those children that you say have “misbehaved” are already at the current open unit facility at Batshaw Dorval. The new unit will be a locked down, closed custody unit; a prison! And the youths that will be housed there, will be criminal youths, found GUILTY and sentenced under the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) and that includes MURDER! Pascale Berardino, coordinator of legal services of Batshaw, confirms this in a recent interview with The Gazette!

      If they are locked down, what difference does it make if they are NOT in the middle of the city. If Batshaw truly believes in the rehabilitation process, then where the building is located is IRRELEVANT. Instead, money, tax payers’ money, should be invested in hiring better and more qualified employees of Batshaw! NO! The middle of our city is NOT the place for such a facility especially when there are thousands who are opposed to this.

      “Rejection by their own community is the surest path to more problems”. Where are you getting your information from? Who says that any of the youths are from Dorval to begin with? The reason why those youths are in a closed custody unit is because of the severity of the crime committed and because they are not the legal age to be in prison. Youths, who end up in these types of closed custody units are there after a LONG history of criminal activity. So, do you really believe that they will suffer from rejection by the Dorval community! Why don’t you speak to the Toope family, maybe they can tell you about some “youngsters who have misbehaved”. The youths who murdered the Toope family, spent time in a closed custody unit, because they were aged 15 to 17. That rehabilitation went very well. Today, 17 years later, those that were convicted are still criminals!! http://westislandgazette.com/news/story/2012/11/12/toope-killer-gives-up-his-last-chance-by-not-showing-up-in-court/

      If anything, your comments here are very misleading!

  3. Often times a child who is convicted under the YCJA -youth criminal justice act- is often also and concurrently under the youth protection act. “Why are they lumped together” is not not an accurate question. It implies that those under YCJA orders are in the same unit as those in placement under strictly youth protection issues. This is not the case. A closed unit is entirely seperate from other units and without access, unless with key, What is also misunderstood is that those under the YCJA order are merely offenders of the law when in fact the youth in closed custody are also often there because need protection from themselves, for self harming behaviors, for example. The children placed in closed custody do not interact with the community in the broad sense. They do not leave the facility or grounds unless for strict appointments (ie medical..court etc). To imply that children who have been placed in closed custody are a problem that must be hidden from the world is ridiculous. The city of Dorval and the general public is uninformed of how the youth center runs nor of it’s population of youth. Batshaw would be wise to inform the public of the work they do with their clients so as to dispell some of the untruths and fears that are blocking the move to build the new facility in Dorval.

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