WESTMOUNT – Most parking signs in Westmount are in French only.
The English was dropped to conform to the charter of the French language back in 1995, but some insist it can create confusion.
“I’m sure a lot of people, especially tourists, will not know what ‘feux allumés’ is, a sign like that should definitely be bilingual,” said Harold Staviss, lawyer and English-rights advocate, who’s on a crusade to get Westmount to bring back bilingual parking signs.
“I think that where we have a right to do something in English it should be done.”
Staviss recently got confirmation from the Office Québécois de la langue française (OQLF) that parking signs don’t have to follow the same rules as traffic signs.
He believes he now has enough legal ammunition to convince the City of Westmount, who until now has said its legal team has ruled against it, to make the change.
“I had sent Peter Trent information from the OQLF saying that parking signs could be bilingual,” said Staviss.
“With all due respect to him, with all due respect to his legal team and some outside council that he got, they were complete wrong. The OQLF backed us up 100 per cent.”
According to section 24 of Bill 101, bilingual cities like Westmount have the right to post parking signs in both languages since they aren’t considered traffic signs.
Other recognized bilingual municipalities like Montreal West and Hampstead already have both languages on street parking signs.
“I think it’s a matter of respect,” Staviss said.
“I think he has to put the money aside, I don’t expect him to change it overnight but it should be done just to show respect for his Anglophone residents.”
Both the OQLF and Westmount’s mayor weren’t available for comment.