Asbestos: Debate over Canadian metropolis’s identify change turns poisonous

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(CNN) — You’d suppose something could be higher than having your city named after a extremely poisonous constructing materials, however the residents of Asbestos, Canada, may disagree.

The townspeople on this unusually monikered Quebecois metropolis will vote in October on a brand new city identify, because the destructive connotations have lengthy been hindering enterprise and tourism endeavors.

The alternatives chosen by the municipal council, nonetheless, are proving controversial.

The town initially grew from the event of an asbestos mine round a big deposit of the substance found there in 1897. For many years, the city thrived on asbestos mining and product manufacturing.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring, however very poisonous, substance as soon as extensively used for insulation. It has been banned in Canada since 2018.

When inhaled or ingested, asbestos fibers can turn into trapped within the physique, and will ultimately trigger genetic harm to the physique’s cells. Publicity may additionally trigger mesothelioma, a uncommon and aggressive type of most cancers.
Having reviewed a whole bunch of strategies, on September 14 the council unveiled the 4 proposals that made the lower: Apalone, Jeffrey, Phénix and Trois-Lacs.

All residents over the age of 14 shall be allowed to vote on the brand new identify between October 14 and 18.

“I’m very proud of the strategy we now have adopted all through the method and particularly with the involvement of our inhabitants. I invite our residents to return and vote in massive numbers!,” stated Mayor Hugues Grimard in a press release.

Response on Fb, nonetheless, has not been optimistic.

On this Francophone city, “ridicule!” (“ridiculous!”) is a recurring phrase within the feedback.

Apalone, which is in honor of an indigenous species of turtle, was advised by Greenpeace Canada. Lyne Dion is not impressed, writing: “I would not be proud to say that I dwell in a comfortable turtle metropolis.”

Jeffrey refers to W. H. Jeffrey, who bankrolled the city’s Jeffrey asbestos mine.

Critics argue that this might be persevering with to shackle the city to its asbestos legacy and likewise honoring the cash males not directly linked to the deaths of many employees.

Phénix — Phoenix in English — is a straightforward reference to the mythic chicken of rebirth. With none connection to native historical past, this additionally has proved an unsatisfying option to many citizens.

There have been cries on social media complaining of a “lack of transparency” concerning the council’s decisions.

The ruckus has been such that the Metropolis of Asbestos’ common supervisor Georges-André Gagné was pressured on September 16 to difficulty a second assertion addressing the truth that “some folks have expressed their disagreement with the names proposed” and “calling for a constructive and respectful debate.”

Alexandre Côte spoke for a number of of probably the most vocal residents when he wrote on Fb, “Actually, it is a setup to get Trois-Lacs! The remainder of the names are actually terrible.”

Nonetheless, the identify Trois-Lacs — after a neighborhood lake labeled by Le Journal de Montréal as “one of many worst in Quebec” — is not proving vastly well-liked both.

All of the kerfuffle has some residents declaring that they need to preserve the city identify as it’s, poisonous historical past be damned.

Stated Ginette Frichette, “I am in opposition to the identify change. I used to be born in Asbestos and I need to die in Asbestos.”

CNN’s Elizabeth Wolfe and Brian Ries contributed to this report.

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