Anthony Doiron has noticed Riverview is changing. He's hearing French spoken by his neighbour and is often surprised at how many families are speaking French at the local playground.
"I remember distinctly one time, we were maybe 12 people ... everybody was speaking French," he said. "Everybody there was francophone … there's a much bigger francophone presence in Riverview than one would initially believe."
Doiron believes the majority English-speaking community needs its first French-language school. Originally from Caraquet, he moved to Riverview, part of the Greater Moncton area, in 2019.
Riverview's francophone population is steadily growing. About 1,700 people in the town report French as their first language, or 8.5 per cent of residents, according to the 2021 census. That means more students in the community with the right to attend a francophone school.
WATCH | Families in southeastern N.B. town hope for French-language school
Heath Johnson, a Riverview town councillor, said the community of around 20,000 people is becoming more diverse.
"The demographics are changing, and I think people may be a little slow to recognize that, but that's been happening for years now," he said.
Johnson said a francophone school would help attract new residents to Riverview.
"People do see this as a place where they would like to move and live, but the school is a missing item for a lot of francophone families," he said.
The Francophone South School District commissioned an enrolment in 2020. It found the student population in Riverview approaching the level required for having its own school. It suggested the construction of a new K-8 school for more than 400 students.
Francophone students of all grade levels who live in Riverview currently take the bus across the Petitcodiac River to attend schools in Moncton.
While the drive might not be far, Doiron said a new school would be more accessible for people in surrounding areas such as Turtle Creek and Lower Coverdale. He hopes his son, entering kindergarten next year, will eventually be able to attend classes in his home town.
"I do believe that some children, who should go to school in French, their parents might choose not to. Because it's too complicated, because they're too far away. And that will essentially amount to erosion of the language, of the community itself."