Richmond stops short of requiring businesses to include English on signs

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      Richmond city council has passed a motion on signage in an effort to finally put to bed an issue that has bubbled for longer than a decade.

      On September 12, councillors unanimously voted to encourage, but not require, businesses to use signs that include English.

      The vote formalizes a council direction from October 2014.

      “As a priority, staff consult with the sign owners to encourage more use of English language on their signs,” the 2014 direction read.

      Earlier this year, city staff were asked to reassess the situation and report back with options for alternative actions. Among the suggestions, staff said the city could formalize the policy of encouragement.

      “Moving forward, it is recommended that this policy be formalized in writing to ensure that the practice remains in place over time, as staff and organizational changes occur,” the report reads. “The approval of the proposed policy will strengthen the City's position to encourage the inclusion of a minimum of 50 percent English on business signage.”

      Council voted unanimously to adopt that recommendation.

      City of Richmond

      According to the 2016 census, 33 percent of Richmond’s 197,000 residents identity English as their mother tongue. Meanwhile, 42 percent reported speaking Cantonese or Mandarin as their first language.

      Tagalog is the fourth-most common language in Richmond, with 3.9 percent of the population. Punjabi comes in fifth with 2.7 percent.

      The Vancouver Sun quoted Richmond mayor Malcolm Brodie responding to the vote by saying he hopes they’ve finally put the signage issue to rest.

      “Nothing is put to rest for good. You never have that kind of assurance no matter what the issue is,” he said. “But I certainly hope that the community will be accepting of our approach.”