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Ottawa confirms 'substantial sum' for financing of Lac-Megantic bypass rail line

Last Updated Jan 23, 2018 at 6:40 pm EDT

Smoke rises from derailed railway cars which were carrying crude oil in downtown Lac Megantic, Que., July 6, 2013. The federal government is confirming it will play a major role in financing the long-sought bypass rail line around Lac-Megantic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

MONTREAL – The federal government confirmed Tuesday it would play a major role in the contruction of a bypass rail line around Lac-Megantic that local residents have been seeking since the July 2013 train derailment that killed 47 people.

Ottawa will contribute a “substantial sum” for the bypass track that would steer trains away from Lac-Megantic’s downtown, Transport Minister Marc Garneau said in a statement.

In response to the news, Lac-Megantic Mayor Julie Morin said she was happy the federal government is “assuming its leadership on this file.”‘

Residents of the Quebec town have wanted a bypass track for years after a large swath of their downtown was destroyed when a runaway train derailed and exploded in the summer of 2013.

Three former railway employees who were charged with criminal negligence causing death were acquitted last week.

A few days after the ruling, Garneau said “the federal government would contribute a substantial sum towards the construction of a bypass railway line around Lac-Megantic.”

Garneau said Ottawa will not yet unveil the amount of its investment because many cost-sharing details still have to be negotiated with the provincial government.

Ottawa is aiming to release the federal government’s financial plan for the bypass track by this July, he said, which is the five-year anniversary of the tragedy.

Morin said she has “a lot of hope” Quebec and Ottawa will come together to finance the track, which is estimated to be 12 kilometres long and cost roughly $130 million.

“The tragedy on July 6 will remain engraved in the memories of all Canadians,” Morin said. “I want the people of Lac-Megantic to know the government of Canada has heard them and that we are behind them.”