Claude Dauphin, Mayor of the Borough of Lachine and President of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities wrote this excellent letter to all municipal leaders across the country in the aftermath of the rail disaster that devastated Lac Megantic.  He has pledged to take action on behalf of municipalities, such as ours in Cote Saint-Luc, home to the largest marshaling yards in Quebec.

“The tragedy in Lac-Mégantic has been weighing heavily on my heart and mind since that terrible day. I know the community, the people and the region, and I am struggling to come to terms with the devastating impact this is having now, and will continue to have in the years ahead for our friends in Lac-Mégantic.

I am sure you all share my feelings. Sadness at what has happened to this community and to the families who have lost loved ones. Outrage at the thought it could have been prevented. Fear that a similar accident could happen in any of hundreds of other communities across Canada.

In fact, railcars carrying toxic chemicals derailed on a bridge in Calgary during its extreme flooding just a few weeks ago, fortunately, without any loss of life. It is shocking to conclude that rail transportation, a foundation of so much of Canada’s history and prosperity, and the raison d’être of many communities, might also present such a grave threat.

I am determined that this local tragedy will drive national action to prevent its recurrence. [Transport] Minister [Lisa] Raitt has agreed to meet with me to initiate a federal–municipal partnership on rail safety.

To support these discussions, I have struck a National Municipal Rail Safety Working Group that will include representation of municipal leaders from across the country.

It is clear from the accidents in both Calgary and Lac-Mégantic that federal–municipal partnership is essential to ensuring rail safety. Municipalities are on the front line of responding to these kinds of accidents, and must be properly informed and equipped to protect their residents.

My thoughts are with the community of Lac-Mégantic as it deals with the aftermath of this tragedy and begins the long, hard work of recovering from the destruction and loss of life it has caused. I pledge to ensure that this loss of life, and this destruction, leads to safer cities and communities across our country.

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