New Starbucks in Moncton criticized for unilingual menu

A new Starbucks outlet in downtown Moncton is grinding some nerves as the international coffee giant is serving up a menu written almost entirely in English.

Company spokeswoman says new downtown outlet sent English-only signs in error

A new Starbucks coffee store in Moncton is being criticized for the lack of bilingual signage. (Ted S. Warren/Associated Press)

A new Starbucks outlet in downtown Moncton is grinding some nerves as the international coffee giant is serving up a menu written almost entirely in English.

The familiar Starbucks logo is attracting long line-ups at the company's fourth store in Moncton, but the fact that almost everything's written in English is turning some people off.

Frederic Mazerolle walks past the new Starbucks, as if it doesn't exist.

He said there's too much of a French presence in Moncton for an international company, such as Starbucks, to use unilingual signs.

"I think they're making a big mistake. The Americans, when they're in Rome they don't do like the Romans, it's unfortunate," he said.

Green Party Leader David Coon said new rules may be needed to require international companies to post bilingual signs.

However, some coffee drinkers are willing to look past the language on the menu as they grab their latté.

"It is a bilingual city but Moncton isn't Dieppe, right. So to me it doesn't bother me, I'll still drink their coffee," said one woman.

All of the menu boards should be bilingual, manager of public affairs Carly Suppa told CBC News on Wednesday afternoon.

"That store opened very recently and was shipped English-only signage. We're looking into how that happened," she said.

Meanwhile, the company in the process of switching out the menu boards at the new location as quickly as possible, said Suppa.

Moncton was the first city in New Brunswick to declare itself officially bilingual. The latest census released by Statistics Canada indicated 46.5 per cent of Moncton residents had knowledge of both official languages compared to the provincial average of 33.2 per cent.

New Brunswick’s Official Languages Act requires the provincial government or private bodies that provide services on behalf of the government to provide services in both English and French.

However, the language law does not apply to the private sector.

Some municipalities, such as Dieppe, have required all new corporate signs to be in both English and French.

Despite its close proximity to Dieppe, Moncton has gone in a different direction when it comes to a bilingual sign bylaw.

In 2012, Moncton council decided to use an education campaign to boost the number of bilingual signs.

The city estimated 22 per cent of downtown signs were bilingual in 2012 and it wants to see that number to climb to 30 per cent by 2017.

Commercial sign law

One New Brunswick political leader said it may be time to strengthen the province’s language law when it comes to commercial signs.

Green party Leader David Coon said too many international companies, such as Starbucks, come into the province and put up unilingual signs.

If companies aren't voluntarily providing bilingual signage in the province, Coon said they should be forced to by the act.

"We're supposed to be a bilingual province and that's why the government signs are in both languages, to try and be a model for the private sector," Coon said.

"These large companies now are really dominating the landscapes in our cities so they need to be clearly in both languages."

The legislative assembly updated the Official Languages Act earlier this year. Provincial MLAs did not add any provisions for bilingual commercial signs.