ASBESTOS -- The municipal council of Asbestos, in Quebec’s Estrie region, is holding a public information session Thursday to discuss the process of changing its name.

Council members made the decision last November, citing a need to get rid of any negative connotations associated with the name to improve its economic future.

Asbestos, a town of about 7,000 people located 50 km north of Sherbrooke, was named after the ore that was mined there for over a century. Considered toxic, asbestos is now banned in many countries.

Mayor Hugues Grimard notes that Thursday's meeting will be an opportunity for open discussion between residents and elected officials. He says they intend to explain the reason for the name change, while listening to any concerns.

Last November, Grimard said at least four companies had indicated to him that they would be willing to set up shop in the town if it was not called Asbestos.

The name change project has been supported by Bernard Coulombe, president and CEO of Mine Jeffrey.

In an interview with La Tribune last week, Coulombe stated that, without denying everything asbestos had brought to the city, it is time for a name change so young people and entrepreneurs are not ashamed to say where they are from.

Coulombe says he intends to file two briefs next month with the Bureau d'audiences publiques sur l'environnement (BAPE) on asbestos.

One will be related to the recovery of asbestos residue, while the other will focus on the safe and healthy use of chrysotile asbestos in Quebec.

The potential cost of the name change process has been estimated at $100,000. The city’s new name is expected to be announced later this year.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 9, 2020.