Legal action threatened after bilingual bylaw passes
Members of the Chamber of Commerce in Russell Township say they're going to take legal action after the town's council passed a bilingual bylaw requiring all new commercial signs to be in both English and French.
The new law was passed by a vote of three to two at a heated council meeting Monday night and takes effect immediately.
Existing signs that are in one language are exempt from the ruling until they need to be replaced.
Language rights activists living in the community told CTV Ottawa they were relieved by the decision.
"For us, it was an asset for the township and also protecting our language and identity in Russell," said Jean Guy Patenaude.
The bylaw ruling, though, has heightened tensions in the township between the predominantly English-speaking population in Russell and the mostly French-speaking population in Embrun.
One resident has already served the township's mayor notice that he intends to sue because the bylaw violates his freedom of expression.
"Why is it my obligation to promote anybody else's cultural language? I don't ask the French speakers to promote mine," said Howard Galgonov.
The mayor, though, says he is confident council made the right decision.
"If someone challenges our bylaw then we're going to certainly defend ourselves. The majority of the population has spoken," said Russell Township Mayor Ken Hill.
About 200 residents attended the meeting to hear how councillors would vote.
With a report from CTV Ottawa's Kate Eggins