Mayors in Quebec Eastern Townships raise rail safety concerns

In the wake of the Lac-Mégantic disaster, several mayors from Quebec's Eastern Townships are demanding a meeting with the federal transport minister.

'We need the railway, [but] we don’t need the MMA,' says Granit region prefect

Pauline Quinlan, the mayor of Bromont, Que., says a meeting with Minister Lisa Raitt would allow local mayors to voice the importance of safer railways. (CBC)

In the wake of the Lac-Mégantic train derailment, several mayors from Quebec’s Eastern Townships are demanding to meet with the Federal Minister of Transport, Lisa Raitt, in order to discuss rail safety concerns.

"We must absolutely assure ourselves of the security and the reliability of the railways that cross our regions," said Cowansville Mayor Arthur Fauteux.

A train owned by Montreal Maine & Atlantic (MM&A) derailed at the centre of Lac-Mégantic over a week ago, setting off a series of fatal explosions and destroying the town's centre.

The tragedy has sparked fear the disaster could be repeated in nearby communities, which also have railways running through or near populated areas.

List of requests from regional mayors:

  1. A meeting with Minister of Transport Lisa Raitt
  2. An immediate and systematic safety inspection of railways across Quebec.
  3. The creation of a working committee including local municipal representatives and experts that will consider options for increasing rail safety in local municipalities.
  4. The adoption of a single resolution across all Quebec municipalities in regards to rail safety.

"We want to take all measures to assure ourselves that the transport of dangerous cargo in particular will be done without risk," said Maurice Bernier, the prefect for the Granit region, which includes Lac-Mégantic.

But the regional politicians were careful to say that despite the Lac-Mégantic tragedy, railways will remain an essential part of their local economies.

"We need the railway, [but] we don’t need the MMA company," Bernier said.

The Mayor of Lac-Mégantic, Colette Roy-Laroche, was not able to attend the meeting, but she had been consulted before hand and agreed with the demands.