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Ottawa confirms land expropriations for rail bypass after Lac-Mégantic tragedy

MONTREAL — The federal government says it will expropriate land from residents near Lac-Mégantic, Que., to create a rail bypass around the town where a train crashed in 2013 and killed 47 people.

Ottawa released a statement Wednesday confirming that it was going ahead with the expropriations without the consent of all affected land owners.

Federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra and Procurement Minister Helena Jaczek say in the release that the federal government will take physical possession of the parcels of land required for the project on Aug. 1.

Alghabra had requested the expropriations to complete the bypass project that would remove trains from the city’s downtown area, a major demand by the community following the 2013 disaster.

On the night of July 5, 2013, a runaway train carrying crude oil derailed and exploded in downtown Lac-Mégantic, killing 47 people.

Several groups that are opposed to the railway bypass say they are displeased with the federal government’s decision and are studying legal options.

The government says it started negotiations with land owners in October 2021 and extended them three times, until January 2023, but was unable to reach deals with everyone. 

The ministers say all owners will receive fair and equitable value for their expropriated property.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 15, 2023.

The Canadian Press

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