Negative association hurting development
The Quebec town of Asbestos said it’s had enough. Officials say the negative association with the mineral and its now bad reputation as a health hazard, is hurting the town.
In a telephone interview with a CBC reporter, the mayor says industries and businesses won’t set up in the area because they don’t want their names associated with the town and the mineral.
The town announced this week that it will be seeking to change their name.
The name is not an issue locally because “amiante” is the French word for the mineral, but asbestos, the English word, is of course very well known worldwide, and no longer as something positive.
The silicate mineral asbestos has been used for thousands of years in the making of cloths, as fireproof lamp wicks, and in recent history as fireproof insulation, brake and clutch pads, and many other applications
In the industrial age it became popular and a huge mining industry sprang up in the eastern townships of Quebec in the 1870’s, with the Jeffrey mine becoming the largest asbestos mine in the world and a booming local economy in the 1960’s. With the product being the main economic driver the town itself had long been named Asbestos.
Although health concerns associated with breathing asbestos dust fibres had been raised as far back as the turn of the last century, it was only close to the turn of this century that serious concerns were raised and bans on its use started to appear.
The negativity around asbestos became such that the two local mines were halted in 2011 and shut down for good in 2012.
The Quebec town hopes that a name change will attract business and jobs to replace those lost when the mines closed. Residents will be consulted about their suggestions for a new name with a decision in 2020.
- CBC: I. Olson: Nov 27/19: Town of Asbestos, Que., changing its name
- Global News: Jul 10/12: timeline-history of asbestos in Canada
- Montreal Gazette: M. Lalonde: Nov 27/19: Town of Asbestos planning to change name to attract investors
- BBC: L. Archer: May 29/18: The town fighting its killer reputation