By Gordon Lambie
Local Journalism Initaitive
As municipal councils get back to business with the start of the new year, 47 different municipalities across Quebec are faced with the matter of passing a resolution to maintain their official bilingual status.
The Office québécois de la langue française lists 91 total “municipal organizations” with official bilingual status across Quebec, including towns, townships, villages, general municipalities, and boroughs. As of the passage of Bill 96 last May, any one of those whose percentage of mother-tongue English-speakers falls below 50 per cent of the total population must now pass a resolution to maintain the status, which allows them to communicate with citizens in English as well as French. Any municipality that receives such a notice from now on has 120 days from the date it is received before the status is revoked.
The Eastern Townships is home to 19 out of the 91 communities that hold the status, but 16 of those 19 are on the list of municipalities that were sent a notice by the OQLF. Only Brome Village (60.3 per cent mother tongue English as of the 2021 census), Ogden (52.9 per cent) and the Town of Stanstead (55.8 per cent) have large enough English populations to avoid the administrative step.