Canadian city with toxic name searches for new identity

It turns out that naming a city after a toxic substance may also be toxic to its tourism and business endeavors.

The City of Asbestos in Quebec, Canada, announced on Wednesday that it will change its moniker because the negative connotation hinders its ability to develop economic relationships abroad, the city said in a news release.

The city initially grew from the development of an asbestos mine around a large deposit of the substance discovered there in 1897. For decades, the town thrived on asbestos mining and product manufacturing.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring, but highly toxic substance that has been banned in Canada since 2018.

When inhaled or ingested, asbestos fibers can become trapped in the body, and may eventually cause genetic damage to the body’s cells. Exposure may also cause mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer.

The city will begin a selection process the choose a new name which it says will be transparent and inclusive of citizens.

“As citizens are the ambassadors of a municipality and are the representatives of its vitality, it was obvious that the public would be involved in the process and the choice of the new name,” said Mayor of Asbestos Hugues Grimard.

The new name will be announced in 2020 at an event open to the city’s residents.