Canada town of Asbestos, Quebec, looks for new name

Katie Ramirez
December 1, 2019

Once a popular building insulation material, asbestos' use was banned in a number of countries, including Canada, for being a potential health hazard.

The City of Asbestos in Quebec, Canada, announced on Wednesday that it will change its moniker because the negative connotation hinders its ability to develop economic relationships overseas, the city said in a news release.

For centuries, the fibrous mineral has been used in building materials such as ceiling tiles and cement, but it's now banned in many jurisdictions across the globe.

The name is not an issue locally because "amiante" is the French word for the mineral, but asbestos, the English word, is of course very well known worldwide, and no longer as something positive.

Founded in the late 19th century around the now-closed Jeffrey mine, the town 170 kilometres east of Montreal helped make Canada one of the world's leading asbestos exporters.

The small Canadian town of Asbestos has decided it is time for a rebrand - and that means it is doing away with the name derived from its mining heritage.

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Hugues Grimard said Wednesday the name carries an unfortunate connotation and it's preventing the town from developing foreign business ties.

World demand for the product plummeted as global locations world wide started banning it. Canada was a latecomer, only banning its manufacture, import, use and export a year ago.

The city will begin a selection process the choose a new name which it says will be transparent and inclusive of citizens.

The World Health Organization says the inhalation of asbestos fibres causes lung cancer, mesothelioma, and other diseases, and it has killed tens of thousands of people. The city will seek the advice of residents in terms of selecting a brand new title, saying the area's historical past and heritage can be taken into consideration.

While it will cost $100,000 to go through with the name change, the Mayor believes the benefits outweigh the costs.

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