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Burlington French Signs: Vermont Town Welcomes French-Canadians

06/20/2013 12:40 EDT | Updated 06/20/2013 12:40 EDT
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Calling all French-Canadians, the town of Burlington, Vt. is now speaking your language. Well, it's not so much speaking, as it is posting signs in French and English around the busy border town.

The move is part of a "resolution of French friendliness" the town passed to welcome French-speaking tourists, according to the Toronto Sun. The motion passed by city council over the weekend saw 700 bilingual stickers added to the city's parking meters by The Alliance Française of the Lake Champlain Region, a chapter of a world-wide association that promotes French culture.

"Just a little bit of accommodation here and there with a parking meter sticker or a few words in French as you greet them, really makes that visitor feel at home," Linda Pervier with the Alliance Francaise told local news station WCAX.com.

Burlington, Vt., is a 45-minute drive from the nearest Canadian border and sees roughly 2.5 million Canadians visiting the state according to State tourism numbers. Many of those 2.5 million hail from Quebec. The idea to add bilingual signs started as an imitative at the city's airport but city councillors, like Norm Blais, decided to take it to the next step according to NPR.

“There is unique place in Burlington for those of French heritage. The French language does have a unique and important place here," Blais said

For now, the majority of signs will only be posted on parking meters in the city's downtown core, thought the Alliance Francaise says there are plans to extend the project in the future.

Call it a sign of the times.

Just a year ago, restaurants in the town were accused of discrimination for adding an automatic gratuity to patrons who spoke with a French accent. Called the "Queeb tax", restaurants would automatically charge an 18 per cent tip to patrons from Quebec, though others restaurants called it a means to educate foreign tourists on the state's tipping customs.

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