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Canadian town of Asbestos changes its name to Val-des-Sources

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The Canadian town of Asbestos has officially changed its name to Val-des-Sources (Valley of the Springs) after connotations with the cancer-causing mineral caused harm to its tourism industry.

Approximately half of the town’s 6,800 residents (2,796) turned out for a parking lot-based car vote or directly voted at the council offices last week in the municipality, located in southeastern Quebec.

The results were announced Monday evening with the winning name – related to its proximity to the source of three lakes – garnering 51.5% of the votes up against five other options; L’Azur-des-Cantons, Jeffrey-sur-le-Lac, Larochelle, Phénix and Trois-Lacs.

Last November, a poll was announced for residents to participate in the rebranding of the town – home to the mineral widely used around the world to insulate buildings, before it was discovered that its fibers lead to various lung conditions and mesothelioma.

The Canadian town of Asbestos has officially changed its name to Val-des-Sources

This photo taken on July 21 2020, shows what’s left of the Jeffrey mine in Asbestos, Quebec. The open-pit mine was first opened in 1849 and was once the largest employer in the region, employing more than 2,000 people

This September the options of Apalone, Jeffrey, Phénix and Trois-Lacs were put forward.

Alapone was suggested by Greenpeace Canada but Facebook user Lyne Dion was among those unimpressed, writing: ‘I wouldn’t be proud to say that I live in a soft turtle city.’

There were also concerns that Jeffrey could continue the harmful reputation of the town as it’s named after W.H. Jeffrey and the world’s largest asbestos mine which was closed in 2012.

The open-pit mine was first opened in 1849 and was once the largest employer in the region, employing more than 2,000 people. 

Globally, more than 100,000 people die from asbestos-related illness each year, according to the World Health Organization.

Between 1998 and 2003, 1,348 workers in Quebec had 1,512 asbestos-related diseases recognized as occupational lung diseases by the special committee on occupational pulmonary diseases following a claim filed with the Québec workers’ compensation board.

About 57.3 % had asbestosis, 27.9 %, mesothelioma and 27.0 %, lung cancer. Of those 29.1% worked in mines, 28.4% in maintenance or repair of asbestos-related product, 21% construction, 11.3% in asbestos processing plants and 10.2% in other work places. 

Visitors to Asbestos can explore the heritage on its three trails. The Townships Trail explores the traces of culture American, Loyalist, Irish and Scottish settlers left in the architecture of the homes, churches, covered bridges, round barns and village centers

The Moulin 7 Microbrasserie brew pub honors the town’s heritage by naming drinks after the area. Mineur means minor

Customers sit inside Moulin 7 Microbrasserie, brew pub that honors the town’s heritage,  on February 9, 2018. Locals have struggled in the aftermath of the closure the mine

Canada officially banned asbestos in 2018.

However Mayor Hugues Grimard claimed investors refused to take his business cards during a trip to Ohio and many people were struggling in the aftermath of the closure the mine.

Visitors to Asbestos can explore the town’s heritage on its three trails: English Tea, Fall Colours and Christmas Markets. They look at the unique American and British heritage of the Eastern Townships through its landscapes and local hospitality.

Plus the Townships Trail explores the traces of culture American, Loyalist, Irish and Scottish settlers left in the architecture of the homes, churches, covered bridges, round barns and village centers.

The area is also known for its Nordic spas, four seasons hiking, cross-country ski trails, plus gourmet food and mineral festivals. 

Outdoorsy people enjoy the 25-year-old La Route verte bike network (3,291 miles), plus camping at l’Ouiseau Blu, which has a golf course and lake swimming. 

The latter area is home to Fromagerie l’Ouiseau Blu restaurant which serves Latin American cheeses. 

The area is known for its various relaxing Nordic spas which offer privacy indoors or the option of outdoor views

People enjoy the camping sites of l’Ouiseau Blu which has a golf course and lake swimming

There are two accommodations; the 2-star Complexe Hotelier Le Williams (pictured) with 25 rooms and 4-star Centre 03 with 24 rooms

The town also holds its annual Mineralogical Fair as well as gourmet food festivals

The second main restaurant, Moulin 7 Microbrasserie, honors the town’s heritage by naming drinks after the area.

There are two accommodations; the 2-star Complexe Hotelier Le Williams with 25 rooms and 4-star Centre 03 with 24 rooms.  

It was expected that the name changing process would cost around $100,000.

‘There is really a negative perception around asbestos,’ Mayor Hugues Grimard told CBC.

‘We have lost businesses that don’t want to establish themselves here because of the name.’ 

Approximately half of the town’s 6,800 residents (2,796) turned out for a parking lot-based car vote

The results were announced Monday by Mayor Hugues Grimard with the winning name garnering 51.5% of the votes

This October 7, 2011 image shows a piece of extracted serpentine, which contains Chrysotile Asbestos fibers. Quebec once produced half of the world’s asbestos and offered the highest-paying mining jobs in Canada before concern about cancer led to the fire-resistant fiber being banned in more than 50 countries, with the mine finally shutting down in 2012

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