Montreal – Canada has no shortage of towns with unusual names: Moose Jaw in Saskatchewan, Medicine Hat in Alberta, Dildo in Newfoundland and Labrador and Swastika in Ontario are just a few.
But for many in the town of Asbestos in the French-speaking province of Quebec their name has become, well… too toxic.
On Thursday, locals gathered for public consultations with their council members to map out the process of getting a new name.
The town, of around 7,000 people, located some 170 kilometres east of Montreal, is named after the minerals that were mined there since the late 19th century.
For nearly a century, the town produced much of the world’s supply of the asbestos, which is now banned in many countries because it’s considered toxic.
The negative connotations of the town’s name has hampered efforts to attract much needed investment to Asbestos, which has fallen on hard times since it shut its mine in 2011, Mayor Hugues Grimard has argued.
Grimard has launched a public relations campaign to convince the citizens of Asbestos that their town’s makeover begins with a name change.
“This is a difficult decision, the choice was not easy, but a multitude of factors pointed in this direction,” Grimard said in a statement in late November when he announced the consultation process.
It is by thinking of future generations that the elected officials decided in favour of a name change, he said.
The new name is expected to be announced later this year.