Residents of the town named Asbestos in the Canadian province of Quebec have voted to rename their community in amove to distance it from the extremely poisonous mineral linked to lung cancer. The town was home to one of the world’s largest asbestos mines, voted 51.5 per cent in favour of changing its name to Val des-Sources over five other options after a four-day referendum.
“It’s a name that represents our area, and especially, it’s inspiring for the future” according to the town’s mayor Hugues Grimard. The new name which means valley of the resources in English refers to the community’s location at the conference of three lakes and represents the fusion of our history and our roots according to the town’s description.
Residents of Asbestos, 93 miles (150km) east of Montreal and home to about 7, 000 people concluded the balloting on Sunday, with anyone over the age of 14 allowed to vote.
The town was built in the late 1870s after the discovery of a deposit of asbestos nearly led to the creation of the mine. Asbestos was for years considered essential as fireproof insulation, among other uses in construction and boiler plant rooms. It even figured in popular culture, with a 1935 song “ I Won’t Dance” featuring the lyric “ For heaven rest us, I’m not asbestos”.
The early 1970s, asbestos was widely recognised as the primary cause of mesothelioma among workers involved in producing it and in industries that used it in their products. The mine in Asbestos ceased operations in 2011.
“Once upon a time, we have been very proud of that name, but now it’s very difficult because asbestos means a fibre that people are afraid of. Every time you say, especially in the United States that you are coming from Asbestos or they read Asbestos on a package they are always afraid that it will be poison” Louis Moisan Coulombe, the mayor of the town from 1997 to 2002.