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Town of Asbestos Seeks New Name

Quebec town was shunned by English-speakers
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 29, 2019 4:07 AM CST
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Asbestos is around 95 miles east of Montreal.   (Wikimedia Commons/Pierre-Paul Drouin)

(Newser) – Officials in Asbestos have decided the town's name is holding it back. The small Quebec town, site of the world's largest asbestos mine, says it will announce a new name next year and residents are welcome to offer suggestions, the BBC reports. Asbestos, once considered a "miracle mineral," was a widely used construction material until it was linked to lung disease. The name hasn't been much of an issue for French-speaking locals, since the mineral is called "amiante" in French, but officials say it has been very difficult to attract foreign investment to the town of around 7,000 people. The mine closed in 2012.

"There is really a negative perception around asbestos," Mayor Hugues Grimard tells the CBC. "We have lost businesses that don't want to establish themselves here because of the name." He says that at one conference outside Quebec, people didn't even want to go near town officials wearing "Asbestos" pins. But there was a backlash online after Asbestos announced plans for a name change, with some locals calling the idea an insult to the town's history. "No need for Anglos to invest. Since I've lived here, the town has evolved without your English, sir," wrote Lyne Mayer. (Read more asbestos stories.)

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