Dorval residents want to keep young offenders away
Published Tuesday, November 27, 2012 7:03PM EST
DORVAL - Neighbours of the Batshaw Youth Centre in Dorval are angry about a plan to send young offenders there.
The City of Dorval is supporting residents and hopes the case will be heard before the Supreme Court of Canada.
A 24-bed closed facility would be added to its current building in Dorval, where Batshaw Youth and Family Services run an open-door centre for children six years and over.
The new facility would include locked doors and a 12-foot high fence to keep young offenders from escaping.
“Either they need protection because they are harming themself or they are having difficulty in society,” said Linda Corbeil, director of finance and administration at Batshaw.
Inside, young people would receive the services they neef from educators and family intervention workers.
“There's no barbed wire. Our fences are double meshed fences because it has to be good looking, because kids are living there,” said Corbeil.
That said, many nearby residents and business owners are concerned about the proposed changes.
About 5,000 residents have signed a petition against the expansion, including Roger Meloche.
“The reality is it’s going to be turning into a prison and if it's turning into a prison, security-wise it will not be good for the people,” he said.
Meloche said if young people are going to be locked in, it should happen elsewhere.
“We would like these people to move in a more appropriate location, which will be an industrial area,” he said.
That’s a bad idea, said Batshaw program manager Jason Vickers, who has worked with young offenders for 20 years.
“These are kids that are from the community and we want them back in the community,” he said. “We want them back with their families and make some links with community organizations, either sports or things that they are interested in.”
Girls’ program manager Filomena DeSantis said the young people are more of a threat to themselves than to others in the community.
“A lot of the girls that I do get are into self-harming behaviours, and have attempted suicide. They have been sexually exploited, have been neglected, have been abandoned,” she said.
According to DeSantis, the key is getting the community to understand, something she's not sure will happen in time.
“It saddens me, because these are children and we all have a responsibility to take care of our kids,” she said.
Batshaw has already won the right to make its Dorval facility into closed units, once at the Quebec Superior Court and again at the Quebec Court of Appeals.
A decision on whether the case will go to the Supreme Court of Canada is expected in the new year.