The building that has housed the Portage program for English-speaking adolescents for the last twelve years will be demolished next year, at the request of its owner, Batshaw Youth and Family Centres. After much negotiation, Portage has been able to push back the demolition date by eighteen months, in order to have enough time to find a new home for the program.
The demolition permit was awarded to Batshaw on May 27, 2013, during a Beaconsfield municipal council meeting. Normally demolition permits must be carried out within 90 days of being granted, but in this case, an exception was made because of a special agreement made between Portage, Batshaw, and Montréal’s Health and Social Services Agency. Batshaw intends to build a new facility on its Elm street property, but the agreement gives Portage permission to remain in the building until the end of 2014.
“[Portage has] helped out a lot of families in the West Island and we recognise that,” said Beaconsfield Mayor, David Pollock during the council meeting, to justify this exception. Portage Beaconsfield is the only residential substance abuse rehabilitation program for anglophone youth in Québec.
“We are relieved to have these eighteen months to find a new location for the program, and have been looking for some time now,” says Sylvain Harvey, Portage’s Director of Properties and Material Resources. “It’s important for us to remain in the West Island of Montréal, where we have strong partnerships with other community organisations, the local police station, and most significantly, the Lester B. Pearson School Board, which provides the educational programming to the youth in treatment.”
Helping adolescents get back on track with their schooling is an important component of Portage’s rehabilitation program. The educational programming at Portage Academy is suited to the specific needs of each student, and covers all required subjects for secondary school completion. Indeed, on June 20, 2013 Portage Beaconsfield will be hosting a secondary school graduation ceremony for six of its residents.
Over the last thirteen years, the Portage Beaconsfield substance abuse rehabilitation centre for youth has made a significant contribution to the well-being of the West Island community, helping youth and families take back control of their lives.
“We’ve all suffered in our past; we were lost and didn’t have the slightest clue how to even be happy,” stated Luna, Valedictorian at the Portage Beaconsfield high school graduation ceremony last year. “It’s as though the events in our lives were given to us as puzzle pieces to reach our goals. But none of the pieces ever fit together no matter how hard we tried. Our puzzle pieces may not have fit before but being here we have found that every one of us has a piece of that puzzle in him. And we’ve completed the first step to reaching our happiness.”