Quebec town of Asbestos narrows name change down to four finalists

Sep 16 2020, 6:42 am

There’s something in the air in Asbestos and it’s time for a name change.

The mining town, located roughly 180 km outside of Montreal, announced in a news release last November that its municipal council has agreed to change its name because the name “does not come with good connotations.”

The city says its name, specifically in English-speaking circles, prevents the town from developing foreign business.

Asbestos stopped mining the deadly mineral it’s named after several years ago and it’s held online suggestion groups over the past year searching for a new town name.

At a meeting on Monday, the town council presented its residents with its final name choices, down from over 1,000 selections:

  • Jeffrey, named after the Jeffrey Mine that used to operate in the town
  • Apalone, after a species of turtle native to North America
  • PhĂ©nix, a mythical bird known for its regeneration
  • Trois-Lacs, a neighbourhood of the town of Asbestos

Asbestos was once a popular material in the industrial sector but mining the substance is now banned because breathing in its fibres can be deadly and has been known to cause specific types of cancer.

The community, part of The Eastern Townships, has almost 7,000 citizens and is home to the Jeffrey Mine — once one of the world’s largest asbestos mines.

The citizens of Asbestos and its councillors, are aware that the history of the name and its heritage are important to the community, aspects that will be taken into consideration with the new name, according to the city.

Asbestos Mayor Hugues Grimard says the name change has sparked “a lot of emotion” but thinks the municipality remains “convinced’ that a name change is “the best thing to do for the future of our town.”

Asbestos says the name change should cost the town roughly $100,000 and is expected to be finalized in January.

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