After spending years battling in court, the City of Dorval is ready to issue the Batshaw Youth and Family Centre a permit to build locked juvenile detention units at its facility on Dawson Ave. in the heart of the municipality’s commercial district.
Last week, the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed an appeal filed by the city to block construction of the facility.
After Batshaw receives the permit, it has six months to begin work.
“That’s the law,” Batshaw executive director Margaret Douek said. “We have to get the plans approved, put out the call for tenders, decide on a contractor and break ground before the six months are up.”
The Supreme Court’s decision, which was announced Feb. 14, means Batshaw can move ahead with its plan to add two two-storey, 12-bed, locked units for young offenders. The youth-protection centre’s current facility consists of four open units that wrap around a central courtyard. The two new units will not be visible from Dawson Ave.
“We are extremely pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision,” Douek said. “It opens the door for us to be able to fully serve our clients within their community and close to their families.”
Dorval Mayor Edgar Rouleau was resigned to the decision.
“We are very disappointed with the decision, but we have to live with it,” Rouleau said. “We can’t go any higher than the Supreme Court of Canada.”
During Dorval’s municipal council meeting Monday, Rouleau said the city spent $80,000 on lawyers’ fees.
“We had to spend the money to try to prove our point,” he said.
The mayor said the main concern was that the facility would be in the centre of the city’s commercial district.
“We offered (Batshaw) other locations in the industrial district, but that’s not what they wanted,” Rouleau said. “So now, it’s over. We will give them their permit, as long as the plans they submit are up to building code.”
Residents of the locked units will not be allowed to attend local schools, unlike the at-risk children who live at the open facility.
Residents of the higher-security units will be young offenders who have been found guilty of violent crimes, including murder, or youngsters who self-harm and need to be closely monitored.
Residents of the new units will be monitored closely with a ratio of three monitors for every 10 to 12 children. Their outdoor space will be separate from the central courtyard and surrounded by a high fence designed to be impossible to scale.
Opponents to the expansion are worried about a shift in the atmosphere of the neighbourhood and an increase in crime, and one person who attended the council meeting voiced concern that property values would drop as a result of the expansion.
“I don’t live that far from the centre and I’m not worried about my property value dropping,” Rouleau said.
In September 2011, Quebec Superior Court ruled that operating a closed-custody facility was part of Batshaw’s government mandate to reintegrate young offenders back into society. The City of Dorval appealed.
To read story about how Batshaw wants to demolish building in Beaconsfield, click here.