Changing the name of a town is not a task to be taken lightly. In Texas, the residents of Dish have buyer’s remorse after they adopted the name in exchange for 10 years of free satellite service from Dish Networks. In Newfoundland and Labrador, the town of Baytona carries a legacy of homophobia, after it changed the name from Gayside in 1985. But after decades of debate, in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, Asbestos is ready to be associated with something other than the cancer-causing silicate mineral deposits.
The asbestos mine in Asbestos closed in 2012, and as the community tries to find new ways to sustain the local economy, the name is becoming a problem. “The word ‘asbestos’ unfortunately doesn’t have a good connotation, especially for Anglophones, and it’s hindering the city’s plans to develop external economic relations,” the municipal government wrote in a Facebook post. A new name will be announced in 2020.
Never inclined to shy away from the prickly public policy problems facing our country, the National Post newsroom crowdsourced ideas for a new town name.
Kale: The wellness industry is big business — worth US$4.2 trillion globally in 2017, according to the Global Wellness Institute. Nobody will ever again think that your community is unhealthy if you hail from Kale. In fact, the name change could be part of a broader rebranding effort — perhaps Gwyneth Paltrow could be brought in as a partner. With a bit of remediation work, perhaps the derelict open-pit mine could be the site of a future spa in the town of Kale.
Self-Driving Artificial Intelligence Blockchain: If the community is looking for investment, subtlety is a luxury they cannot afford. For too long, Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver have received enormous amounts of investment as the country’s leading technology hubs. It’s time for someone else to get their share. Admittedly, Self-Driving Artificial Intelligence Blockchain (SDAIB, for short) is casting a wide net for economic development, but if the people want targeted investment, there are other options: Saudi Amenable, Asbestos Web Services, WeActuallyWork, CybertruckTown, Quawei, or just High-Yield-Investmentville.
Deferred Prosecution Agreement: If there’s one thing we’ve learned in 2019, it’s that the surest way to attract federal government attention in Quebec is by dangling the possibility of a deferred prosecution agreement. Ideally, the municipal government would float the idea of changing the town’s name, but hesitate. Within weeks, staffers from the Prime Minister’s Office will visit, definitely not looking to pressure the local government, just to chat about the situation. Within a month, SNC Lavalin’s board would be seized with the issue, and the engineering jobs would inexorably follow. If this all seems hopelessly cynical, well, let’s not forget that the prime minister represents a riding in Quebec.
Godemiché: Over the summer, comedian Jimmy Kimmel drew international attention the Town of Dildo in Newfoundland and Labrador. Dildo was overrun by tourists, and even Premier Dwight Ball visited the community, to bask in the Dildo notoriety. Fortunately, ours is a nation of two official languages. Dildo is already taken, but Godemiché is still available!
Bitumen: Hear me out on this. Our country is facing a national unity crisis, both in Quebec and Western Canada. But every crisis is also an opportunity. Rebranding the town of Asbestos as Bitumen would represent a nod to the community’s history of resource extraction, and an affinity for controversial, mineral-based names. Moreover, it would be a tremendous gesture of national unity, and would surely attract investment. Remember, a re-routed Energy East pipeline running through Bitumen, Que. would most certainly be a form of investment.