Town called Asbestos is renaming itself to attract investments from abroad

The town of Asbestos, Canada is seeking a new name after acknowledging that it “does not have a good connotation – particularly in English-speaking circles”.

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 $58 million loan promised to reopen it a year later.

Now the town has said it needs to move past its heritage.

“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,” a statement from the local authority said.

“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.”

Asbestos derived from Amiante in French 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.

But in the 20th century the material was found to be hazardous, prompting governments across the world to remove the material from insulation board and ceiling tiles in buildings.

Asbestrians will now get the chance to select a new name. People can submit suggestions to 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”.