Grenville-sur-la-Rouge will remain an officially bilingual municipality.
On January 10, council approved a resolution to keep its legal ability under Québec’s French Language Charter to offer municipal services in English as well as French.
Grenville-sur-la-Rouge was given bilingual status by the Québec government in 1997. Changes to the language charter in 2022 under Bill 96 however, require municipalities to adopt resolutions to keep their status, or be required to offer services in French only.
Grenville-sur-la-Rouge was among 47 bilingual municipalities who received notices less than a week before Christmas 2022 from the Office québécoise de la langue française (OLF), requiring a resolution be adopted within 120 days or become French only. The affected municipalities are places where, according to the most recent census data, there is not an anglophone majority, however bilingual services are still being offered.
The most recent publicly available population statistics for Grenville-sur-la-Rouge are from the 2016 census. Out of a population of 2,825, there were 2,760 responses to the language question in the 2016 census. Of the 2,760 responses, 2,000 residents identified French as their mother tongue, and 725 residents whose mother tongue is English. There were 35 residents whose mother tongue was not English or French.
Number of English-speaking resident declining
The resolution adopted in Grenville-sur-la-Rouge says bilingual services will be maintained, regardless of any changes in the population of English-speaking residents – which Mayor Tom Arnold acknowledged is declining.
“Obviously, the amount of English-speaking residents is dropping,” Arnold commented.
However, the mayor wants to ensure the municipality continues to offer services in English and French. The resolution refers to English and French speaking residents as being part of the character of the municipality.
Director-General Marc Beaulieu said even though the OLF requested a resolution be adopted within 120 days, the municipality wanted to act quickly.
“We didn’t want to leave it,” he said.
Grenville-sur-la-Rouge council had adopted a previous resolution to maintain bilingual services in 2022, but it was not in response to a request from the OLF. Arnold said that since the law was changed, municipalities have had to wait to be notified to adopt resolutions to maintain their bilingual status.