Régis Labeaume gives cheque to Lac-Mégantic
Town having difficulties recovering from devastation
Quebec City mayor, Régis Labeaume, was in Lac-Mégantic this weekend along with hundreds of RV enthusiasts and visitors, to present a cheque to the town's Chamber of Commerce.
About 400 people came to support the community which was devastated by the July 6 rail derailment and explosions last summer.
"We will have a very, very big cheque to give to Lac-Mégantic," said Labeaume.
This is Labeaume’s second visit to Lac-Mégantic; the first was in July, a few weeks after the tragedy.
Lac-Megantic's mayor, Colette Roy-Laroche, said aside from the 47 victims and their families, local businesses have suffered more than anyone else in the wake of the July tragedy.
More than half the community's businesses remain closed, including many stores were still standing after the derailed oil cars exploded.
“Right now, life isn't normal. Every day is a struggle, every day is different,” Yannick Gagné, the owner of Musi-Café, a bar that was destroyed at the epicentre of the explosion.
Gagné is a business owner — not an employee — so he does not qualify for employment insurance and he's had to push back mortgage payments on his house because of the loss in business.
He said he’s also still grieving the loss of some of his employees and friends.
Lac-Mégantic resident Lyne Poulin said the reconstruction of the downtown area is the next big step for the town to move forward after the tragedy.
She said that in spite of the loss and devastation, the disaster has also brought people together.
“It brought us closer, so it’s not all bad, it’s just a temporary time. It’s not easy but we can manage that,” said Poulin.
“The only thing that we hope is that we are going to do something really nice with the place, because it was really nice before," said Poulin.