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Effort to change name of Asbestos, Quebec halted after residents voice displeasure with potential names

The town of more that 7,000 residents was supposed to vote using a ranked ballot between October 14 and October 18. However, that date has now been pushed back.

Elie M. Cantin-Nantel The Post Millennial
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Efforts to change the name of the town of Asbestos, Quebec have been paused after citizens voiced their disliking of the four contenders for the town's new name.

Town councillor Caroline Payer said that the city has decided to take more time in order to explain the process to the towns residents and possibly add some options to the list before a vote takes place.

The Eastern Townships town no longer wants to be associated with asbestos, a toxic mineral that once was the town's economic engine. That mineral is now widely seen as dangerous, which has given the town some negative attention.

According to Global News, the mayor announced earlier this week that the four contenders for the town’s new name are Apalone, Jeffrey, Phenix, and Trois-Lacs. These names refer to an endangered turtle, the name of the city’s first asbestos mine operator, a mythical bird, and a former municipality that merged with Asbestos in 1999.

Some of the residents of the town are unhappy with the proposed names. Councillor Payer added that these decisions can be emotional, and that it is important to take time to make sure that citizens will be proud of the new name of their town.

Payer also said that more details regarding the revised process will be available next week. In a phone interview, she added that “People can be scared we’re going to forget the past, people can be scared we’ll lose our identity, so it’s a major process we’re living,” and “It’s a historical one too. It’s not so often that a municipality changes its name.”

The town of Asbestos is situated about 130 kilometers east of montreal. It was home to Canada's largest asbestos mine, called the Jeffrey mine, which closed in 2012.

For a long time, building materials such as ceiling tiles and cement contained asbestos, however it is now banned in many countries, including Canada.

The WHO says that causes lung cancer, mesothelioma and other diseases can be a result of inhaling asbestos fibres and that tens of thousands of worldwide deaths are linked to it’s inhaling.

The town of more that 7,000 residents was supposed to vote using a ranked ballot between October 14 and October 18. However, that date has now been pushed back.

While Payer is hopeful that the town will take more name suggestions and add them to the ballot, it remains unclear if they will. However Payer did say that the name Asbestos will not be on the ballot, despite the fact that some people in the town remain opposed to changing its name.

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