New Brunswick

Dieppe takes companies to court over sign bylaw

Three businesses will be in court later this week for refusing to pay fines for violating Dieppe's bilingual sign bylaw.

Bilingual sign bylaw passed in May 2010

Dieppe is taking three businesses to court for refusing to pay fines for violating the city’s bilingual sign law.

The southeastern New Brunswick city is planning to continue its crackdown on companies that are not complying with its bilingual sign bylaw.

The bylaw was passed in May 2010 but the city gave businesses months to comply with the new rules. The city started fining companies in September 2011.

Those that did not follow the new bylaw were fined, but some billboard companies have not paid those fines.

Now the city has decided to take action.

On Wednesday, city lawyers will be in provincial court asking a judge to order the businesses to pay their fines.

50 charges laid

Dieppe Mayor Jean LeBlanc says he won't comment until the matter goes before a judge. (CBC)

The city has laid a total of 50 charges against the companies.

One is a numbered company. The other two rent billboard signs - CBS Outdoors Canada and Pattison.

The fine for each violation is $140.

None of the companies could be reached Monday for comment.

Dieppe Mayor Jean LeBlanc declined to comment until the case goes before a judge.

Meanwhile, several area residents seem to support the city.

Marie Piers, who doesn't speak English, likes the bilingual signs.

Liliane Laplante agrees. She said she wants to protect the French language.

George Boudreau, however, said he couldn't care less. "As far as I'm concerned, if it's in English it's OK, if it's in French it's OK," he said.

John Thompson, of Enterprise Greater Moncton, said he's surprised it's still an issue.

"We're known as a bilingual community and I think most of us embrace that," he said. "I think for the small portion of population that you know is still upset because one language is used over another, I think they're living in the stone age."

In October, a Dieppe spokesperson said there had been about 80 billboard violations.

The bylaw states that French will have to be either at the top of the sign, above the English text, or on the left of the sign with the English text on the right.

When Dieppe passed its sign bylaw, it did not apply to existing signs or the signs of chain stores.

Dieppe has allowed groups, such as cultural or educational institutions, to request the right to put up French-only or English-only signs.

Dieppe is the fastest growing francophone city in the province with a population of more than 23,000.