Lac-Megantic will today mark the seventh anniversary of a tragic rail disaster by inaugurating a long-planned memorial space.
On July 6, 2013, a runaway train hauling tanker cars loaded with volatile crude oil derailed in the Quebec town of 6,000 and exploded, claiming 47 lives and destroying a large part of the downtown area.
The memorial – which has taken three years to construct – will be set up at the site of the former Musi-Cafe in the heart of the town, where staff and patrons made up many of the victims.
The project, designed by architects Pierre Thibault and Jerome Lapierre, was created with the objective of allowing everyone to remember, in their own way, the community-changing event, the town said in a statement.
Given the COVID-19 pandemic and physical distancing measures, the inauguration will be broadcast on Facebook, with several guests attending in person and residents invited to visit in the days and weeks to come.
The bells of Ste-Agnes Church will ring at noon in tribute to the victims.
The city says it has obtained written confirmation from Canadian Pacific Railway that no train will run through Lac-Megantic on July 6.
Mayor Julie Morin says it was the least that could be done out of respect for citizens who still have to watch trains passing through the heart of the town daily.
Morin says the city wants the authorization to be renewed in perpetuity, even after a railway bypass is built and the downtown rails are dismantled.