From The Gazette

Beaconsfield

Portage caught off guard by Batshaw’s request for demolition permit

Although Portage officials began searching for a new West Island location about a year ago, staff and teens at the substance abuse treatment centre were caught off guard when permits to demolish the building the centre is housed in were deposited at Beaconsfield city hall in mid-December, sparking a heated debate in the community.

Portage had some formal discussions with Batshaw Youth and Family Centres officials a year ago when they were informed the latter planned to reclaim the Elm Ave. property for its own use.

However, Portage officials were not informed that permit requests were being made to the city for a proposed $50-million open-unit facility Batshaw planned to operate for troubled youth, said Portage spokesperson Seychelle Harding. “We were shocked,” she said.

Portage staff and teens at the Elm location were dismayed to find a demolition notice sign had been erected on the property last week, she added.

While Portage has engaged in searching for a new location within the West Island since last year and has even made offers, a suitable site has yet to be found.

“Hopefully we can resolve this matter, but we don’t know what will happen,” Harding added. “We’re evaluating our situation but we can’t relocate in 10 days. We are eager to resolve this.”

A potential locale requires space for dorms for two dozen teens and rooms to offer them treatment programs.

For about 12 years, Portage has been assisting English-speaking teens overcome their substance abuse issues at its Elm Ave. location. Up to 24 teens at a time enter the voluntary program for what are normally four-month stays.

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