Fredericton — Fredericton City Council has just passed a motion to rename portions of Regent Street to the French-only “Rue Regent” to recognize the city’s thriving francophone population.
In a 9:3 vote, council approved the motion with little opposition. City crews are expected to have the new street signs erected by Aug. 1, but due to budgetary constraints, only those signs heading down the street will be switched to French. Those leading up the street will remain in English.
“Besides the cost, this was also a strategic decision as we had to consider our changing demographics and who might be driving past these signs,” said Jean-Guy Leblanc, a spokesperson for “RueTheDay,” an organization that received a $625,000 grant from the city in 2015 to study the impact of unilingual traffic signs on such things as accident frequency and government job absenteeism.
“Our data shows us that there is a larger francophone population heading down the hill to the Centre communautaire Sainte-Anne and to the downtown core for their government jobs, whereas there are greater numbers of English-only drivers heading up the hill to their retail jobs in the malls, franchise restaurants and big box stores.”
Those spearheading the drive for Rue Regent encourage English-only citizens to embrace the change and to make an attempt to learn proper French pronunciation. Most anglophones tend to say the word as “roo” using a hard “r,” but the proper pronunciation is actually closer to “awrhew,” rolling the “r” using tongue acrobatics worthy of a Cirque du soleil performance.