Founded in 1899 and named for the “grey gold” found in its surrounding hills, the French-speaking town in Quebec once boasted a thriving mining community
However the mine suspended operations in 2011, with the municipal government of Quebec cancelling a $58million loan promised to reopen it a year later.
Now the town has said it needs to move past its heritage for harvesting the hazardous mineral.
“As the word ‘Asbestos’ does not have a good connotation, particularly in English-speaking circles, it is a brake on the city's willingness to develop economic relations abroad,” the local authority said in a statement.
“It is therefore in keeping with the will of the municipality to be dynamic on both the citizen and economic levels that the decision to change the name was made.”
Known as Amiante in French, asbestos refers to six naturally occurring minerals composed of long fibrous crystals. It was used for centuries as a material renowned for its heat resistance and electrical insulation.
However in the 20th century the material was found to be hazardous, prompting government intervention across the world to remove the material – particularly from insulation board and ceiling tiles in buildings.
Asbestrians will now get the chance to select a new name, with suggestions also being submitted by the local authority.
Mayor of Asbestos Hugues Grimard added "Since citizens are the ambassadors of a municipality and represent its vitality, it was obvious that the public would be involved in the process and the choice of the new name".
Historically the town of Asbestos served as the site of one of the bitterest labour disputes in Canada’s history in 1949, when miners walked off the job at four mines garnering national attention.
Among those to support the action was Pierre Elliot Trudeau, who launched his career responding favourably on the strike.
He would later become the 15th prime minister of Canada, taking on the post ahead of his son Justin – the current PM.
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