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Three Moncton business groups have polled local businesses about a possible bilingual sign bylaw. ((CBC))

A new survey shows Moncton businesses owners agree that bilingual signs are important but they do not want city council to impose a new sign bylaw.

The survey was conducted by Enterprise Greater Moncton, the Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Moncton Inc. to test the waters as the city toys with the idea of a commercial bilingual sign bylaw.

Chad Peters, a spokesman with Enterprise Greater Moncton, said the results of the survey will be turned over to city council in September along with recommendations on how to move forward.

Peters said he won't reveal the final numbers yet, but he said most business owners agree bilingual signs are a good idea.

"We know a high percentage of businesses offer bilingual services therefore adopting bilingual signage shows that you're accepting of that much more and you're part of the community," Peters said.

But Peters said businesses owners don't want to be forced to put both French and English on their signs.

He said he thinks persuasion is a better way of getting businesses on board.

John Andrews has been running The Shoe Tree for almost 20 years.

He said as much as 60 per cent of his customers are bilingual so he provides promotional signage and service in both languages.

Andrews said it makes sense to cater to people of both language groups but he's not sure enforcing bilingual signs with a bylaw is a good idea.

"Touchy question but I probably think it should be left up to the individual business owner," Andrews said.

"But I think it would make sense for their business to promote their business and look after the customers then they should do it."

Possible lawsuit

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A Moncton group has threatened to sue the city if a bilingual sign bylaw is imposed. ((CBC))

It is estimated that 80 per cent of all commercial signs are English.

Greater Moncton's population is 124,055 and according to the city's website 62 per cent of its citizens identify themselves as anglophones and 32 per cent as francophones.

Moncton's research into a bilingual sign bylaw comes after its neighbouring city, Dieppe, adopted a law earlier this year.

Dieppe's sign bylaw, which only applies to new commercial signs, indicates that signs must have French on either the top of the sign, above the English text, or on the left of the sign with the English text on the right.

The city's bylaw will not apply to existing signs or the signs of chain stores.

The only groups that would be allowed to ask council for the right to put up French-only or English-only signs would be cultural or educational institutions, such as a school.

The possible sign bylaw has proved controversial in Moncton.

A group calling itself Canadians Against Forced Bilingualism has protested outside city hall and collected a petition against the possible bylaw.

Barry Renouf, a local businessman, has threatened to sue the city if a bilingual sign bylaw is adopted.