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Richmond passes policy encouraging use of English on business signage

The Canadian Press   Sep-12-2017

A man walks past a Chinese-language advertisement outside a business in Richmond, on Tuesday September 12, 2017.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck


RICHMOND, B.C. — The City of Richmond has opted for education and outreach instead of enforcement to encourage business owners to include English in their signs.

Members of Richmond council voted unanimously to formalize in writing a policy that has been in effect since 2014 that directs municipal officials to push for signage that has at least 50 per cent English.

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Census data for the Metro Vancouver municipality shows the mother tongue of more than 40 per cent of Richmond residents is either Cantonese or Mandarin, compared with 33 per cent of those who say their first language is English.

The dilemma around language requirements on city-regulated signs has dogged Richmond for years.

Some council members have pushed in the past for strict regulations and the hiring of a sign enforcement officer, only to back down in the face of possible charter challenges around freedom of expression.

Rob Akimow, head of the Richmond Chamber of Commerce, applauds the city's decision and says he hopes the move will finally put the long-standing issue to rest.


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