Parents of man killed in Lac-Mégantic disaster don't want tracks moved next door

René Boutin and Isabelle Boulanger lost their son Frédéric in the 2013 Lac-Mégantic train explosion that killed 47 people. Now they’re fighting to keep the railway tracks from being relocated close to their house.

Municipality, citizens group tell BAPE railway must be relocated so trains no longer go through town centre

René Boutin does not want the Lac-Mégantic train tracks to be moved to within 300 metres of his home. 'I lost my son. I think I’ve given enough,' he said at Monday's environmental review board hearing. (Radio-Canada)

Ever since a tanker-train carrying crude oil derailed and exploded, Lac-Mégantic residents have been calling for the train tracks that run through the centre of town to be moved, to skirt around the municipality.

People living in town say they still feel stressed every time a train rolls through.

The municipality has a preferred new route. However, it would mean laying tracks within 300 metres of the Boulanger-Boutin home in the nearby town of Frontenac.

"The idea of seeing the train pass in front of our house and hearing it everyday — I won't be able to endure it," said Boulanger at a provincial environmental review board (BAPE) consultation hearing Monday night.

5 options include doing nothing

BAPE is considering five options: doing nothing, improving the safety of the tracks at their current location, and three different routes for the tracks' relocation.
Isabelle Boulanger says no plan to reroute the tracks would be fair to everyone. 'We would just be relocating the problem without solving it,' she said at Monday night's hearing. (Radio-Canada)

Boulanger says no rerouting option would be fair to everyone.

Any bypass will have an environmental and social impact for every person touched by the detour, she said, whether it be the loss of land, a poorer quality of life or a decline in property values. As well, she said, moving the tracks wouldn't make train transport of hazardous goods any safer.

"We would just be relocating the problem without solving it," she told the review board.

Boulanger and Boutin said authorities should concentrate on writing stiffer laws and ensuring train tracks are properly maintained.

"The problem wasn't really the railway tracks." Boutin said. "It was negligence: no driver. Leaving [the train] parked there without supervision. Everything. I don't really want that near my place."

"Those who build next to the train tracks, that's a choice they made. Me, I chose not to build next to a railway."

People of Lac Mégantic 'can't breathe'

However, Lac Mégantic Mayor Jean-Guy Cloutier's position is firm.

"We want a bypass, and that's all," Cloutier said.
Robert Bellefleur, the spokesperson for a coalition of citizens, said people living in downtown Lac-Mégantic live in fear of another train tragedy. (Radio-Canada)

"The population can't breathe when it sees those trains pass," echoed Robert Bellefleur, a spokesperson for a coalition of citizens and groups dedicated to rail safety.

"They have the right to finally live in peace."

Bellefleur said he can understand how people like Boulanger and Boutin feel about the bypass, but he thinks money might make up for it.

"There are ways to be compensated when part of your land is expropriated," he said. "People need to put the collective good ahead of their individual well-being."

Boutin is unconvinced.

"I lost my son," Boutin said. "I think I've given enough."

Roughly 150 people attended the BAPE hearing in Lac-Mégantic Monday to discuss options for relocating the train tracks that run through the centre of town. (Radio-Canada)

With files from Radio-Canada's Marie-Hélène Rousseau