Quebec town of Abestos votes to change name to Val-des

The open pit of the now closed Jeffrey mine is seen in Asbestos Que. Wednesday Aug. 10 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS  Paul Chiasson

It's a name that represents our area, and especially, it's inspiring for the future.

The mining town, located roughly 180 km outside of Montreal, announced it has changed its name from the cancer-causing fibre asbestos to Val-des-Sources.

The town voted 51.5% in favor of changing its name to Val-des-Sources over five other options, according to results announced on Monday from a four-day referendum.

The town of over 7,000 residents has been looking to shed its association with the toxic mineral due to its negative impact on people's health.

Asbestos residents over age 14 and local property owners were eligible to cast their votes for the new name last week.

The community, part of The Eastern Townships, has nearly 7,000 citizens and is home to the Jeffrey Mine - once one of the world's largest asbestos mines.


Greenpeace Canada suggested Apalone, in honor of an indigenous turtle species, while Jeffrey was in reference to W.H. Jeffrey, who paid for the Jeffrey asbestos mine in the city.

The city says its name, specifically in English-speaking circles, prevents the town from developing foreign business. "It is an obstacle to the city's willingness to develop outside economic relations", the town said in November 2019 following the decision to rename itself.

Long used in building materials such as ceiling tiles and cement, asbestos is now banned in many countries.

The new name was unveiled at a special municipal council meeting that was streamed live on the town Facebook page.

The resolution adopted by the council now needs to be considered by the provincial toponymy commission, which will have up to 60 days to comment on the proposed change.

In total, 2,796 people voted between October 14-18, representing about 48 per cent of eligible voters.

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