Montreal

Town of Asbestos back to the drawing board after lacklustre response to renaming options

Ever since four choices were unveiled on Monday, a town councillor says they've been hearing less-than-enthusiastic feedback from those who live in the town.

Council will revisit list of 1,000 suggestions for town named after hazardous mineral

The Town of Asbestos, Que. is searching for a new name. (Radio-Canada)

The Town of Asbestos, Que. is once again reviewing the suggestions it received for its new name after a lacklustre response from residents over the top four picks.

About 1,000 suggestions were received since the town, named after the mineral that was once its source of pride, announced it was seeking a new name last year.

Once a major exporter of asbestos, the town's Jeffrey Mine stopped operating nearly 10 years ago. Use of the mineral is now banned in most countries due to the carcinogenic fibres that it can release into the air.

Coun. Caroline Payer said the town received "a little bit of everything" in their request for help finding a new name.

Along with the town's social acceptability committee and the Quebec commission responsible for place names, those suggestions were whittled down to four choices:

  • Jeffrey, named after the asbestos mine.
  • Phénix, symbolizing the town's rebirth.
  • Apalone, named after an endangered turtle species.
  • Trois-Lacs, which merged with the town of Asbestos in 1999.

Ever since those four choices were unveiled on Monday, Payer said they've been hearing less-than-enthusiastic feedback from those who live in the town.

She said that speaking with residents and looking at conversations on social media is prompting the town council to revisit the other suggestions.

"We have to make sure we offer a diversity in the choices so people can relate," she said, adding that the pandemic made it more difficult to communicate the selection process with residents.

Yan St-Hilaire, owner of the Moulin 7 microbrewery in the town, said the current name carries such a negative connotation that it makes it hard to do business.

Of the current choices, he says Trois-Lacs is the only one that has his support. But he said what's most important is that the town goes ahead with the name change.

"We are disappointed for the other choices that we have. But that's okay. We'll change the name so that's good," he told CBC's Quebec AM.

Payer says the town has lots of suggestions to work from, and they're trying their best to find something residents can be proud of.

"It's not every day that a city changes its name," she said. "We don't have a manual or a guide to help us, so we go as we think."

The town is planning on holding a vote on the new name, where everyone living in Asbestos ages 14 and over can take part, next month.

With files from Spencer Van Dyk and CBC's Quebec AM

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