Asbestos unveils four possibilities in short list for new town name

The open pit of the now closed Jeffrey mine is seen Wednesday, August 10, 2016 in Asbestos, Que. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

The town of Asbestos, Que., looking to shed its link to the hazardous substance, has narrowed the search for a new name to four contenders.

Mayor Hugues Grimard announced on Monday that the four possibilities residents will vote on next month are Apalone, Jeffrey, Phenix and Trois-Lacs.

The names refer respectively 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.

The Eastern Townships town has long debated changing its name due to the negative attention it receives, and the area has exited the asbestos industry after the Jeffrey mine closed in 2012.

READ MORE: Quebec town looking for new name

The town, about 130 kilometres east of Montreal, helped make Canada one the world’s leaders in asbestos exportation.

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Long used in building materials such as ceiling tiles and cement, it’s now banned in many countries.

The World Health Organization says the inhalation of asbestos fibres causes lung cancer, mesothelioma and other diseases and is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths around the world.

Municipal council adopted a plan to change the name in November 2019, but the process has been slowed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

READ MORE: Asbestos exposure leading cause of work-related deaths in Saskatchewan

The community of more than 7,000 will vote at city hall between Oct. 14 and Oct. 18, using a ranked ballot.

Anyone 14 and older will be permitted to vote, but those under 18 will need to be accompanied by a parent.

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