Languages Used on Signage/Advertising

Our office has received numerous phone calls and E-Mails from residents asking about the use of languages other than English or French on ads/signage, as there has been a visible increase in private businesses’  signage containing Arabic, Asian and Hindi text.

Currently, there is no section in Winnipeg’s Neighbourhood Liveability By-laws or Zoning By-laws which state that private businesses have to use specific languages in their signage in the South Winnipeg-St. Norbert ward.


City of Richmond – Review of Language/Signage

Please note that the City of Richmond, BC recently examined a similar issue.  Their discussion centered around the fact that some private businesses had Chinese-only text on their signs.  After several years of debate, Richmond City Council determined that:

  • City staff would work with private businesses to inform them of the advantages of incorporating English on signage in order to expand the potential of their business.
  • Any private business which chose to retain Chinese-only signs would not be fined as the new policy was NOT a by-law; such a by-law could infringe on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
  • A new sign by-law will soon be proposed focused on “decluttering” by limiting how much space on storefronts can be used for signage.
  • For details, see the City of Richmond website:  Community Engagement – City of Richmond Sign Bylaw No. 5560 Update

In addition, as part of a new contract which the City signed with Pattison Outdoor, all advertising at bus stops in Richmond must now be at least 50% in English.


City of Winnipeg – Current Status

At this point in time, there are no plans for the City of Winnipeg to revise its by-laws regarding this matter, given the tenets of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  However, I am working with the City’s Planning Department to examine the processes used in Richmond, with a view to establishing something similar in Winnipeg.
As I obtain more information, I will be posting updates to this page.