CSL calls upon municipalities and boroughs with bilingual status to erect signs in French and English

COTE SAINT-LUC, JULY 14, 2006 - Côte Saint-Luc City Council has unanimously adopted a resolution calling upon all municipalities and boroughs in Quebec with bilingual status to erect all new signs in both French and English.

Mayor Anthony Housefather emphasized that the Charter of the French Language allows municipalities with bilingual status to erect bilingual signs and indeed all signage erected by municipalities with bilingual status can be in both the English and French languages provided French is predominant.  "The City of Côte Saint-Luc feels strongly that municipalities with bilingual status should erect bilingual signs to show that residents from both linguistic communities are equally respected," he stated. "Our signs send a message to young people and when our youth sees the English being removed from municipal signs they begin to doubt their place and future in Quebec. Unfortunately the OQLF has a tendency to adopt very restrictive interpretations of the law related to bilingual signs and often confuse municipalities into believing that their interpretation is the law, when indeed it is not."

Councillor Mike Cohen, whose corporate identity portfolio takes into account matters related to signage in the city, noted that it is  clear that Section 24 of the Charter of the French Language, which allows municipalities with bilingual status to erect bilingual signs, only requires that French be predominant, not markedly predominant which is the case with commercial signs. "We interpret this to mean that municipal signs in municipalities with bilingual status can have French and English letter of equal size with the French language being given more prominence by being on the left or the top part of the sign," he said. "Some representatives of municipalities with bilingual status believe that they can not put up bilingual signs or believe that if they do put up bilingual signs the French text would need to be larger than the English text or that the name of a street would need to be repeated twice on a street sign. This entirely stems from misleading information given by the OQLF or the Commission de la Toponomye".

Mayor Housefather made it clear that in his view those interpretations are contrary to the plain wording of Section 24 of the Charter of the French Language, which has now been in force for almost 30 years.

Both Mayor Housefather and Councillor Cohen emphasized that the city is currently reviewing its own street signage to ensure it is scrupulously bilingual and compliant with the law. A new bilingual street sign for Cote Saint-Luc will be unveiled in the fall and signage templates are in development. The Mayor and Council plan to replace every street sign in the city with the new model as part of the 2007 capital expenditures budget.

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