Tensions are running high in Russell Township as business owners prepare for a proposed bylaw that could make it mandatory for all signs in the township to be bilingual.

If the proposed bylaw passes its third and final reading on June 16, all new signs in the township will be required to be posted in both English and French. Existing signs, however, are expected to be exempt from the rule until they need to be replaced.

Although the township's council recently voted 3-2 in favour of moving forward with the bylaw, those who oppose the decision say it's creating a rift that's starting to tear the community apart.

"It's starting to create a divide that's never been in this township before and the history of this township is over 150 years old," Harold Stall told CTV Ottawa.

"I have a feeling that even after the third reading of this bylaw, this won't be over," added Marc Bourque.

The township's mayor, though, thinks the move is a positive one that will help promote respect for both languages in the community.

"When we look at a bylaw that specifically says we're going to now respect openly, both the English and the French, it's a win-win situation for everybody because we don't put anybody ahead of the other now," Mayor Ken Hill told CTV Ottawa.

French rights activist Jean-Guy Patenaude agrees and says more respect for the French language will improve business for everyone in the area.

"We are here, we have a French community, we expect to be served in French already so this will not change, it might reinforce that feeling among the owners themselves," said Patenaude.

If council passes the bilingual sign bylaw, it will take effect immediately.

With a report from CTV Ottawa's John Hua

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