English advisory committee looking to put Danville on the map

By Gordon Lambie

Drawing on the results of a forum held last year, the Town of Danville launched a new advisory committee for its English-speaking population last week. According to Michel Plourde, Danville’s mayor, the idea behind the new initiative was to create a kind of support system for the shrinking English-speaking population with the idea of helping attract newcomers to the region.
“We already have the institutions,” the mayor said, listing the local elementary school, churches, legion and curling club as hubs for the English-speaking community. “Right now, anglophones are about eight per cent of the population, but that is decreasing every year.”
Plourde pointed out that there are English services available to the community, but they often go unused because people are not aware that they exist or because people are nervous about using them.
“People should not be shy to ask for services in their own language,” he said, pointing out that always speaking in French leads municipal workers to the impression that there are no English speakers.
The committee, the mayor said, offers members of the English-speaking community a place to voice their concerns and propose ideas for the betterment of the municipality.
“We’d like to get on the map,” committee member Isabelle Lodge told The Record, adding that she feels quite optimistic about the role the new group could play in helping people from Montreal, for example, see Danville as a nice place to live.
Lodge spoke very highly of the diversity of the committee, sharing that it is made up of both relative newcomers and people who have lived in the community their entire lives.
“Our members range from 25 to 75,” she said.
Looking back on the inaugural meeting, both committee members said that the discussion rested mainly on issues raised during the 2019 forum, although Lodge was positive about the likelihood that the group will go on to consider and act on important issues.
“This was mostly getting to know one another and naming the issues,” she said.
Looking at the work ahead, Plourde said that he sees one of the committees first priorities to be the evaluation of services available in the region to English speakers
“We want to point out if there are services that are not as good as they should be,” he said, pointing out that although the town has restrictions on what it can do with regard to services in English because of Bill 101, the committee could help them do as much as possible around the outside of those limits.

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