Thu. Feb 29th, 2024

Circumvention route: the request for an interlocutory injunction of expropriated property is rejected

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Expropriated owners believe that the federal government risks causing irreversible damage, particularly to the environment, if the work continues. (Archive photo)

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The Federal Court rejects the request for an interlocutory injunction from around ten expropriated owners in the Lac-Mégantic bypass case. The latter wanted the work to stop until a judge had ruled on the merits of the story. They believe that the federal government risks causing irreversible harm, particularly to the environment, if the work continues.

The Court, however, refuted their argument. She notably recalled, in a decision rendered Monday, the public interest of the project.

It is seen as the essential link in the revival of the city [of Lac-Mégantic] and the reconstruction of its downtown, in addition to being necessary to improve the safety of residents. The railway is also vital to the economy of the city and the MRC du Granit; it is essential for seven companies which are important local employers, underlines Associate Chief Justice Jocelyne Gagné.

None of the options evaluated, not even the status quo, is free of environmental impact or achieves social consensus. Proof of this is the environmental disaster caused by the train derailment and the impact of this tragedy on the physical and mental health of Lac-Mégantic residents, on downtown Lac-Mégantic and on the waterways. adjacent, adds the judge.

Although at first glance, environmental and social acceptability issues raise very serious questions, they do not fall within the very narrow grounds for contesting a Notice of expropriation and therefore are not within the scope of this Court.

A quote from the Federal Court in its judgment

The associate chief judge further maintains that the plaintiffs have not convinced her that the simple effect of the expropriation on their property rights causes them irreparable harm, that the plaintiffs do not allege how the environmental impacts of the project will cause them personally, and not collectively, irreparable harm, and that the bill for this project, however hefty it may be, will have no direct impact on the plaintiffs.

The fact that the start of the work is neither certain nor imminent, confirms that the damage alleged by the plaintiffs are only hypothetical.

A quote from the Federal Court in its judgment

“It’s a bit of a surprise that this is happening to us today,” says an expropriated person, Sylvain Côté.

I'll try everything. I will check with the others, there are still several who will be determined to continue. You have to see what's going on. We cannot accept a project […] which is not accepted by the population, he said.

The judicial review case is still ongoing, which aims to invalidate the expropriations. The injunction would have been a temporary measure before the Court makes a decision in the case.

One ​​of the expropriated lawyers, Mr. Frédéric Paré, confirms that his clients will have to make a decision as to whether they continue the procedures. He always remains convinced that he has good arguments to put forward.

Several reasons for which we requested the annulment of the decision. Some of the reasons, the judgment leads us to believe that we will have little luck on the merits of the case. On others, I think we still have very good arguments to put forward, so it is the clients who will decide whether we continue, but no, the file is not dead , he explains.

We are satisfied with the judgment rendered by the Federal Court today. This confirms that we are doing the work in the right way to build the bypass. This is not a project like any other. Lac-Mégantic has lived with the memory of this tragedy for more than 10 years. We are going to take the train out of the city center, wrote Canada's Minister of Transport, Pablo Rodriguez.

With information from Thomas Deshaies

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