Quebec town votes no to Lac-Mégantic rail bypass project as expropriations loom
MONTREAL — Residents of a Quebec town have voted overwhelmingly against a rail bypass project that would divert trains around Lac-Mégantic, where a freight train derailment killed 47 people nearly 10 years ago.
The neighbouring municipality of Frontenac confirmed that 92.5 per cent of eligible residents opposed the project in a referendum held Sunday.
The federal and provincial governments have long promised to fund the bypass to divert trains away from Lac-Mégantic, after an unattended freight train carrying crude oil derailed and exploded in the heart of downtown in July 2013.
But the plan has drawn pushback from residents of neighbouring towns such as Frontenac, where some citizens would see their land cut in two by the proposed bypass route.
Transport Minister Omar Alghabra announced last week that he has made the difficult decision to expropriate land after the failure of negotiations to purchase the needed properties.
A spokesperson for Alghabra said today that the minister is aware of the referendum results but remains fully committed to the bypass.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 20, 2023.
The Canadian Press