From The Gazette

Dorval

Dorval residents continue fight against ‘locked’ facility for convicted youth

No one had to ask 90-year-old Ken Watkins to sign the petition opposing Batshaw Youth and Family Service’s plan to build a locked facility in a residential neighbourhood in the heart of the municipality.

A Dorval resident since 1936, Watkins was one of the first to sign the petition when it was created over a year ago. And in recent days, he says, he has been going door to door collecting as many signatures as he can before the petition closes Saturday.

Monday, he said the petition is the only way to signal one’s civic discontent with the Quebec court system.

In late August, a Quebec Court of Appeal ruled in favour of Batshaw, giving the agency the go-ahead to replace its 40-bed, open-door youth centre at Dorval and Dawson Aves. with a larger “closed,” or locked-door, facility at the same location.

The city of Dorval has requested the Supreme Court of Canada hear the case, and, two weeks ago, it put out a call asking residents to sign the petition to show their support for the court challenge.

As of Monday afternoon, close to 5,000 residents had signed the petition, 1,000 of them new signees since the city launched its court challenge, said Sébastien Gauthier, a city spokesperson.

“Support has been strong,” said Watkins, who has collected close to 300 signatures in the past two weeks.

A Second World War veteran, Watkins said he believes the issue is defending the democratic right of citizens and an elected municipal council to say “no” to a facility that would have a negative impact on the quality of life and property values in Dorval.

“It’s that simple,” said Watkins, who lives about a kilometre away from the Batshaw centre.

He said people are threatened by the idea of a locked facility that houses “convicted criminals,” even if they were found guilty under the Young Offenders Act. “It’s a jail; There is going to be a 12-foot fence with barbed wire on top.”

Going door to door, he said, he has only encountered three people who supported the facility, and “they were current or ex-employees” of Batshaw Youth and Family Services.

Last week, Margaret Douek, the agency’s executive director, said Dorval’s characterization of the Bat-shaw Centre as a “prison” for criminal youths under 18 years of age is instilling undue fear in the minds of residents.

Batshaw needs to expand the Dorval facility because its 60-bed closed facility in Prévost, 70 km northwest of Montreal, is out of date.

She said the majority of Batshaw’s clients are children and youth, who more often than not are victims of neglect and trauma. And she added they primarily come from the West Island and the western half of Montreal.

The petition can be signed until the end of Saturday afternoon at Dorval city hall, the Sarto-Desnoyers Community Centre, the Surrey Aquatic Centre or the public library on Lakeshore Dr.

ccornacchia@montrealgazette.com Twitter: @cornacchiaGAZ

8 comments

  1. As an employee of Batshaw I would just like to inform the West Island community that most of these oh soo fear “criminal” are possibly and most likey your neighbor that you say hello to every day. They are Youth that need help and guidance not Judgement from a community that is not willing to get to know and or understand where these Youths come from.

    • I agree 100%…where do they want these kids to go? on a deserted island? come on this is rediculous, if this was your child that was in there because they needed help you would be thinking otherwise… WASTE OF DORVAL TAX PAYERS MONEY FIGHTING SOMETHING SO REDICULOUS. How about we petition that planes stop flying over my house at all times of the night because it wakes me from my sleep and ruins my quality of life…come on guys I REFUSE to sign this Petittion!

      • By Frustrated!

        How quick you would be to sign that petition if one of those ‘kids’ or child as you call them, murdered a family member of yours. I think that when someone makes a comment , they should really be well informed or do proper research first. You have no idea nor any clue about what closed custody units are. And even worse, how they will affect the children or youths who are in the open units. Educate yourself!

  2. By Cetin Gurz

    I don’t understand why Batshaw administrators can’t see that current location is not suitable for such a youth prison. I am not against youth rehabilitation, contrary even I am ready to contribute as a volunteer to this cause. But this not the place to built such a facility. What I am going to suggest Batshaw is to come together with Dorval residents and city to develop a new project in one of the convenable locations.

  3. By B Hiscock

    This is NOT about the youth/children. I am appalled that THERESE can refer to this as “being about the youth”. It’s NOT about that at all. This is about an agency [batshaw] which thinks they are above the best of the best. Better than anyone! Wow! While they refuse to negotiate with anyone, they use their legal and political might – to pulverize those who are only trying to “be normal and communicate / negotiate with them to find a reasonable resolution – a solution in the best interests of everyone involved – both Dorval citizens and BYFC (Batshaw Youth and Family Centers)”. It’s extremely ironic how batshaw seems to think that everyone should simply trust them on this project, when they won’t even sit down with us and try to find a workable solution to all of this. Are they actually hiding something? And what happens if this center is finally built? What if they have more surprises for us in the future? How can you trust a baker who never buys flour for his shop?

    Although I’m quite disappointed, I’m really NOT surprised at all that Therese would throw in “youth – children” as a bargaining point of pressure in which to invoke “A HUMAN PLEA TO THE PEOPLE OF DORVAL” , this as I once heard a well to do “saying”….. which kinda made me laugh – “Batshaw = children for profit”. Kinda has a ring to it!

    To force themselves into our city like this and try to literally TAKE OVER EVERYTHING …… well now that’s just plain wrong.

    WAKE UP BATSHAW – WAKE UP BEFORE ITS TOO LATE. If you truly think that you can force yourselves into our town like this and then afterwards – come to our homes and expect us to trust you and great you with open arms.?

    SOMEONE IS DEFINITELY – 100% – REALLY OUT OF TOUCH WITH REALITY ON THIS ONE – INDEED,

    STOP TARGETING EVERYDAY GOOD CITIZENS OF DORVAL – AND START FINDING WAYS TO “OPEN YOUR EYES AND YOUR EARS” – TO HEAR WHAT WE ARE SAYING HERE. RESPECT STARTS AT HOME……. AT BATSHAW HOME!

  4. Wow is right B Hiscock. I’m thinking someone is suffering from a little paranoia and conspiricy theory. “to pulverize…” “children for profit”…”take over everything” !! Someone seems on a rampage to make a point…I wish I had a clue what that was! I guess Batshaw doesn’t work to help kids (not about the children it seems) but is somehow hoping to move some units to Dorval for some reason that favors the organization and not the families All I can say is thank you to Therese, Lianne and others out there who seem to get it. This is exactly about the children, their families and the communites they live in…no amount of capitalized words should detract from that!

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