It turns out the people of Asbestos, Quebec, don’t want their town to be named after a turtle, a mythical bird or the entrepreneur who first mined the deadly mineral.
Four days after unveiling proposed names for residents to vote on, Mayor Hugues Grimard said negative reaction from residents in the town of about 7,000 people is sending the council back to the drawing board. He defended the process, and said he wants residents to feel proud both of their past and of their new moniker.
The initial options, narrowed down from 1,000 suggestions, were Phenix; Jeffrey, the name of a man who operated a large asbestos mine; turtle species Apalone; and Trois-Lacs, a neighborhood of Asbestos that means “three lakes” in English. Critics piled on via social media, and the council released a statement urging residents to stop personal attacks on volunteers who’d helped sift through proposals.
The shift to a new identity, announced in November and delayed by the pandemic, is designed to help the town move away from a moniker associated with cancer in English. [In French, the mineral is called amiante.] Several investors over the years have balked at committing money to Asbestos because of its name, Grimard has said.
Grimard declined to say whether the new list will retain the original proposals.