NIMBY (short for Not In My BackYard) designates any conflict involving the location of dangerous or nuisance-creating projects in places where local people can be expected to oppose their establishment.*
With Batshaw Family Services announcing its intention to demolish the building that houses Portage rehabilitation centre on Elm St. in Beaconsfield** in order to build a residential facility for troubled kids, Beaconsfield residents are certainly getting a taste of the NIMBY syndrome, me included.
Beaconsfield residents’ reactions are justified. The Batshaw project shares similar characteristics typical of NIMBY projects: First, this project creates a nuisance at the local level (fear and insecurity from prisons or prison-type facilities). Second, the project is likely to produce sizable advantages, but on a broad scale rather than a local scale. Third, this is a large project, and its establishment requires the expropriation of Portage (who would be collateral damage of this project), as well as long-lasting changes (such as possible drop in property values).
According to the MEI*, conflicts related to implementing risky or nuisance creating (NIMBY) projects occur often. In most cases, all players involved may say they are dissatisfied: developers (Batshaw) must face local opponents; political and administrative decision-makers (Beaconsfield council) have trouble reconciling the conflicting interests of their constituents; concerned members of the public (Beaconsfield residents) are too often excluded from discussions and decisions concerning their daily lives (the process has not exactly been transparent nor the sequence and timing of meeting dates logical to permit a proper weighing of the pros and cons).
No wonder we are distraught and unhappy with the situation.
These are just some of the questions I have that may, in part, get some answers at the next town hall meeting on March 11th:
- Knowing this is a NIMBY-type project, why has Batshaw not shown some effort in collaborating with the residents of Beaconsfield?
- I understand that Batshaw will present their project to residents at a town hall meeting next March 11th, but this is 48 hours prior to the time when the Demolition committee is to meet to render its decision about the demolition permit request. Why has council not made some effort to schedule the town hall meeting earlier so as to give more time to digest the information and give the resident a chance to express their concerns?
- When I asked this question at the council meeting this Monday, I was told that it wasn’t relevant and it didn’t matter because there is an appeal process anyway. What?
- For NIMBY projects, it is widely known that public consultation including all stakeholders is a must. Does Batshaw and city council plan to work with its citizens? Does city council feel that this thing is a done deal and that such a consultation is a waste of time?
- When we see how Dorval was railroaded by Batshaw with the recent closed-facility project, does the same fate await Beaconsfield residents? Will we be living in a community with closed-facility (i.e. prison) metres away from the park where our children play?
- If you are a Beaconsfield resident it’s probably a good idea for you to fit the next town hall meeting in your agenda: March 11th 7:30 p.m. at city hall.
See you there.
*Montreal Economic Institute (MEI) http://www.iedm.org/320-how-can-the-nimby-syndrome-be-avoided-
** For background info on this project: http://westislandgazette.com/news/story/2013/02/20/batshaw-wants-to-demolish-building-to-make-way-for-new-facility-in-beaconsfield/