St-Lazare residents take note: there likely won’t be any English on your property tax bills next year.
That’s because as of Monday, the town will progressively change the way it communicates with residents in order to comply with the charter of the French Language, following a complaint filed with the Office québécois de la langue française at the beginning of the year.
Town spokesperson Geneviève Hamel said an anonymous complaint was made with the Office about the town’s publications. She doesn’t even know if the complaint was made by a resident of the town.
St-Lazare, which has a majority of French-speaking residents (53.3 per cent), must operate in French. That means all official documents coming from town hall must be in French only, the town said.
“Ville de Saint-Lazare is an officially unilingual French-speaking town and priority must be given to the French language in all its activities,” the town said in a statement.
English-speaking residents make up 36.5 per cent of the town’s population, so the town will be making some exceptions to accommodate the large proportion of English speakers, such as maintaining English translation on its website. However, the town’s Facebook page, its phone switchboard system, and any documents mailed out by the town will have to be in French only.
Hamel said while everything the town mails out to residents will be in French, there will be English translations of nearly every publication. She said all documents eight pages and less will be posted in English on the town’s website, while anything longer than that will be printed out and dropped off at several distribution points, such as the town hall.
St-Lazare Mayor Robert Grimaudo said this isn’t a big change.
“Everybody’s still going to get exactly the same service,” he said. “There will be a fully bilingual website. Nothing is going to change, we’re just going to do it a little differently. How I personally feel about the Office is irrelevant. We have to deal with this issue, and I am not going to spend taxpayer money to battle the Office.”
Hamel said the town won’t send out English translations of French documents by special request, because to do so could be prohibitively expensive, but bilingual versions of the tax forms will be available on the website.
A full list of the changes was detailed by the town in the document below.
To read Brenda O’Farrell’s blog on this topic, click here.