New name for a Canadian town called Asbestos

Image source, Courtesy ville d'Asbestos
Image caption,
The name change comes after years of debate in the Quebec town

The small Canadian town of Asbestos that decided it needed a rebrand has done away with the name derived from its mining heritage.

The Quebec town, home to some 7,000 people, voted for "Val-des-Sources" as its new moniker.

The town was once the location of the world's largest asbestos mine.

It was given the English name for the mineral - rather than the French amiante - in the late 19th Century.

But the town's council said the connotation hindered its ability to attract foreign investment, and announced last November that the hunt was on for a new name.

The town, about 150 km (95 miles) east of Montreal, finally announced the winning title with some fanfare on Monday evening.

It was picked after a lengthy consultation and a vote by town residents, including those as young as 14.

About half the town residents eligible to cast ballots did so. Val-des-Sources won with just over 51% of the vote in the third round of voting.

The name is "above all, inspiring for the future", Mayor Hugues Grimard said.

Other possibilities on the shortlist were L'Azur-des-Cantons, Jeffrey-sur-le-Lac, Larochelle, Phénix and Trois-Lacs, which came in second place.

Asbestos won't be changing its town signs immediately, said Mr Grimard, who suggested it could be the end of the year before the formal, legal switch.

"It'll be a nice Christmas present," he said.

The town of Asbestos thrived for over a century on the chrysotile asbestos manufactured at its open-pit mine. The mine suspended operations in 2011.

Once considered a miracle mineral, asbestos was used in construction industries for strengthening cement, in insulation, roofing, fireproofing and sound absorption.

But by the mid-20th Century, concerns about its use were growing as more and more studies linked asbestos to deadly illnesses.

Breathing in asbestos fibres has been linked to cancer and other diseases.

Global demand plummeted as countries around the world began banning asbestos. Canada was a latecomer, only banning its manufacture, import, use and export in 2018.

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