For the first time in 20 years, Montreal's Town of Mount Royal has French-only street signsafter painting over the English words.

That move came after a bitterdispute with the province's Office de la langue française (OLF).

All of which has left the mayor of the nearbybilingual municipality ofCôte Saint-Luc confused. He says he won't give in to pressure from the language police andcan't figure out why Mount Royal backed down.

"It's absolutely baffling that they would remove the English language that is part of the history of Town of Mount Royal," said Mayor Anthony Housefather.

"I mean, I don't want to ascribe motives to a council, but it seems to me to be a very foolish thing to have done."

Housefather said bilingual municipalities have the right to put up bilingual signs, as long as the French portion is to the left or at the top of the sign.

French must predominate

He said Côte Saint-Luc received the same warning as Mount Royal did from the OLF in 2002.

But the city refused to change, and it hasn't heard back from the language watchdog.

The OLF is also puzzled about Mount Royal's decision to paint over the English words. It thinks the city overacted.

"They could have erected these signs in both French and in English as long as the French is predominating," said OLF spokesman Gerald Paquette.

He said thecity just needed to make some slight changes to the signs.

Signs did not comply

Mount Royal mayor Vera Danyluk says the language police have been hounding hercity because the signs didn't comply with the Charter of the French Language.

Danyluk said thecity was tired of fighting with the OLF, so it hired municipal workers to paint over the English words.

"Well, [it's] not that we threw in the towel," she said."We feel that there are so many important things we should be doing in our municipality to improve the quality of life for our citizens."

Danyluk said the fight over the bilingual signs is petty and narrow-minded, and a waste of money.

However, the Côte Saint-Luc mayor said covering up the English on street signs sends the wrong message to anglophone youth in the community.

Housefather said it's an issue that crosses municipal boundaries, and bilingual municipalities should stick together.

"Côte Saint-Luc will keep bilingual signs, and it's gonna be over my dead body that we ever take off the English from our signs while I'm mayor of Côte Saint Luc."