From The Gazette

Beaconsfield

Residents voice concerns about Batshaw plan

  • Batshaw wants to demolish this building, which houses the Portage rehab centre on Elm Ave.
    Batshaw wants to demolish this building, which houses the Portage rehab centre on Elm Ave.
    Photo credit: Gazette file photo

Several residents expressed concerns about a proposed $50-million project to build housing units for troubled youth in Beaconsfield at Monday’s city council meeting.

Mayor David Pollock was blasted for not alerting councillors that officials from Batshaw Youth and Family Centres had approached the city’s urban planning department in May 2011 with preliminary designs for a project. Councillors stated they were kept in the dark until after Batshaw filed requests for a demolition and building permit in December.

When asked by a resident, councillor Pierre Demers said he was not aware of Batshaw’s plans during a consultation process held last fall to consider high-density residential development at the Elm Ave. property, which currently houses the Portage Centre, a substance abuse rehabilitation program for adolescents. “We were not made aware that the city had reviewed plans in May 2011,” he added.

Although Pollock reiterated his reasons for not alerting council in 2011, such as he believed the project was several years away and that on-again, off-again discussions went back a decade, he acknowledged that, in hindsight, he had erred.

“In retrospect, I should have (informed council). I’m sorry,” Pollock said during question period.

“It seemed like something that was a potential project that was years away,” he later added. “The city usually deals with things when it’s something more concrete. If they had said we’ll come back and propose a project in six months, it would have been a totally different scenario.”

The mayor went on to state that, while Batshaw had filed demolition and building permit requests with the city in December, provincial funding for this project has yet to be confirmed.

Later, when pressed by a resident opposed to the project, Demers said, in principle, he is OK with Batshaw’s plans for an open-unit facility on the Elm Ave. property, a 366,000-square-foot lot with institutional zoning. “The project that I have seen, which is an open-unit facility, I don’t have any issues with,” he added. “Our kids in the English community need help and we have a responsibility for those children.”

Hela Labene, a former mayoral candidate, said the city’s administration wasted tax dollars and residents’ time attempting to rezone the Batshaw/Portage site on Elm Ave. last fall considering plans for a new facility were presented in May 2011.

Greg Stienstra, who heads the Beaconsfield Citizen Association, citing the scope of Batshaw’s proposal, said the city should have had input in the planning stages and he demanded any related impact studies be released. He added the project would have a negative impact on infrastructure and traffic flow.

Batshaw’s proposal is to be explained to residents during an information session at city hall on March 11 at 7:30 p.m. Beaconsfield’s demolition committee is to meet March 13 to decide on a recommendation to council on the request for a permit to tear down an existing structure on Elm Ave. in order to make way for the project.

 

One comment

  1. Doesn’t make sense to build a huge complex to house 125 kids in a quiet residential neighborhood. Why not expand Batshaw’s complex in the Laurentians where the kids would be further away from the temptations of the city. Too large of an expansion for the neighborhood. It’ll look like a mini-Parthenais among small homes. Another dropped ball by Beaconsfield’s mayor.

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