Richmond foreign-language bus stop ads required to be printed half in English


RICHMOND (NEWS 1130) – The City of Richmond has reached an agreement with an advertising company to ensure advertisements at bus stops to be at least 50 percent in English, in terms of overall space, content and font size.

Richmond City Councillor Alexa Loo says this agreement will help create a more welcoming environment by making the ads more widely understandable.

“If we wanted to see signs that are inclusive to people and that are understandable then they have to be in a language that we can all agree on,” Loo said, “We all agree that English [is one of] the official languages that are spoken here, so therefore that’s the one that we should use and communicate in.”

Loo says that the agreement came into effect on August 1, and the City had been discussing this matter for a few years prior.

“I think that meets a lot of the needs and expectations of the taxpayers of Richmond, that facilities owned by them aren’t being used to exclude them,” Loo says.

The City says they will be making recommendations in regards to signs on private businesses, rather than put restrictions on their use of language.

“This isn’t the kind of thing that we want to go head-to-head with anybody on,” she adds, “We don’t want to take this to court, we don’t want it to become an us versus anybody. That’s not how we want to do it.”

Restricting languages on private signs, Loo says, may infringe upon the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

According to the 2011 census, nearly 50 per cent of Richmond residents identify as having Chinese ancestry and 40 per cent report speaking Chinese as a first language, whether it’s Cantonese, Mandarin or another dialect.

That’s compared to 36 per cent of residents who identified English as their mother tongue.

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