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By-laws

By-law violation

If you would like to report a possible by-law violation, an Officer will examine your complaint.

A courtesy warning is often issued on a first offence (not applicable to all regulatory by-laws such as those relating to parking infractions). Subsequent or continued violations may result in fines or court proceedings.

Unless the matter goes to court, your name, address and telephone number will be kept confidential. Should the matter proceed to court, it is likely necessary for you to attend as a witness to the violation.

Report a possible by-law violation related to the following on serviceottawa.ca:

Please call 3-1-1 to report a possible violation related to these subject matters:

  • Business licensing
  • Discharge of firearms
  • Fence height
  • Noise
  • Park
  • Pool enclosures
  • Portable and temporary signs
  • Smoking - Public Place
  • Smoking - Workplace
  • Taxis
  • Weeds

For information on any by-law please call 3-1-1. 

Clear Path

Preserving the Accessibility of City Sidewalks

The use of ‘A-frame” or ‘Sandwich Board’ signs have, to date, been a popular and effective marketing tool for small businesses, particularly in the retail and hospitality sectors.

However, the proliferation of these signs has created significant mobility challenges for persons with disabilities. This is particularly true for high-traffic commercial areas, such as the Byward Market, Elgin Street and Wellington West.

The City of Ottawa is currently engaged in a pilot project with BIAs and accessibility Groups to improve the placement of these signs and ensure that residents and visitors can enjoy a clear path along our sidewalks.

Clear Path is designed to educate business owners about the requirement to maintain accessible routes throughout our communities and the economic advantages that come from accessible business practices.

According to the Canadian Survey on Disability (Statistics Canada, 2012), 13.7% of Canadians live with a visual or mobility related disability. As our population ages, this number is expected to increase to 20% or more.

Smart businesses will adapt to this reality and contribute to the vitality and inclusiveness of their community with creativity, innovation and inclusion. Businesses that do not adapt will lose customers and opportunities.


Building our reputation as an accessible and inclusive city will lead to strong growth in our tourism and retail sectors. Adapting to the needs of a broader customer base will help Ottawa gain a larger share of the estimated $9.6 billion in new retail spending and $1.6 billion in new tourism spending anticipated to come to Ontario through improved accessibility.

Temporary Sign Placement Regulations

Sign dimensions may not exceed sixty centimeters (60 cm) in width or seventy-five centimeters (75 cm) in length, and a height not less than fifty centimeters (50 cm) or greater than one metre (1 m).

 Dimensions

An “A-frame” means a self-supporting structure shaped like an “A” with one or two sign faces, with a base dimension not exceeding sixty centimeters (60 cm) in width or seventy-five centimeters (75 cm) in length, and a height not less than fifty centimeters (50 cm) or greater than one metre (1 m).

These dimensions are the maximum size permitted. Smaller signs must be used in areas where space is limited, provided the sign is at least fifty centimeters (50 cm) high.

 Placement

Signs must be placed on either the inner or outer boulevard/sidewalk. Where the delineation of the boulevard is not clear, businesses can use the following guidelines:

  1. Inner Boulevard/Sidewalk – Signs should touch the side of the building.
  2. Outer Boulevard/Sidewalk – Signs must be away from the curb so they do not impede traffic and must not extend past lamp posts, waste receptacles, newspaper boxes or other items.

Signs must be placed so that they provide a minimum pedestrian clearway (the area of sidewalk reserved for pedestrian traffic) of 1.8 meters in a straight line along the block.

In high pedestrian traffic areas, such as the Byward Market, a minimum pedestrian clearway of 2 meters is required.

In all cases, pedestrians must be able to travel in a straight line without obstruction caused by signs, trees, patios, building faces, ramps, steps, or doors.

Signs must be placed within the street front of the business and all signs on a given block must be placed on the same side, whichever provides the maximum area for pedestrians. Exceptions may be granted where the building frontage allows and will be addressed on a case-by-case basis in consultation with the business owner.

Signs may not be placed on the outer boulevard within a loading zone or within 10 metres on the loading side of a transit stop.

Signs must not be placed within three metres (3 m) of an intersecting street as measured from the curb, or where there is no curb, as measured from the edge of the roadway.

Restrictions

No business may place more than one sign.

Signs must be removed outside of business hours.

Signs must be removed if Environment Canada issues a Storm Advisory or Storm Warning.

Signs must not be placed during periods of snow and ice accumulation or for 24 hours after a snow accumulation of 7 cm or more. The City accepts no liability for signs damaged by snow clearing operations.

No signs may be placed along Confederation Boulevard without the prior written consent of the National Capital Commission. Where consent is given, signs and sign placement must adhere to these standards.

Enforcement

Upon the first offence, businesses will receive a formal letter advising them of the infraction, with detailed instructions regarding sign placement and references to Accessibility Resources.

On a second offence, businesses will receive a Notice of Violation and a fine of $300.00

On subsequent offences, signs will be removed at the expense and risk of the owner. Fines will escalate by 100 percent with each offence, to a maximum of $5,000 as provided for in the Provincial Offences Act, R.S.O. 1990. Chapter P.33, as amended.

Contact Information

Questions or comments regarding this initiative can be sent to clearpath@ottawa.ca.

Retail store closures on Remembrance Day

In recognition of the significance of Remembrance Day in honouring Canadian Veterans and those serving in the military currently, and in accordance with the City of Ottawa’s Remembrance Day By-law 2008-355 , most retail businesses are required to close until 12:30 p.m. on November 11th each year. The exceptions to the closure requirement are:

  • Food/grocery, tobacco, antique and handicraft stores with less than 2400 square feet in total area used for serving/selling to the public
  • Pharmacies with less than 7500 square feet in total area used for serving/selling to the public. Therefore, pharmacies located inside larger stores must be closed until 12:30 p.m.
  • Book/newspaper dealers which store is less than 2400 square feet in total area used for serving/selling to the public
  • Convenience stores (e.g. “corner” stores)
  • Nurseries, gardening supply stores and florists
  • Gasoline/fuel stations
  • Businesses selling propane, diesel, natural gas and associated fuel products
  • Businesses dealing in the rental of motor vehicles and boats
  • Businesses dealing in the repair of motor vehicles and boats, which includes the portion of larger stores where vehicle repairs are being provided.

Note also that:

  • The by-law deals only with fixed, enclosed premises
  • The closure requirement under the by-law does not apply to:
    • hotels and motels
    • restaurants (take-out, fast food, sit-down)
    • recreational facilities and fitness centres
    • doctors’, dentists’, optometrists’ offices
    • medical centres
    • funeral homes
    • hair salons and spas
    • pet groomers
    • vehicle repair shops
    • repair services for computers, furnaces, air conditioners, pools
    • pay-day loan services
    • realtors
    • dry cleaners
    • vendors at outdoor markets (i.e. ByWard, Parkdale)
  • The closure requirement under the by-law does apply to:
    • tourist areas exempted by by-law from the Retail Business Holidays Act (which regulates retail store opening on Statutory Holidays) including the ByWard Market BIA, the Downtown Rideau BIA, the Glebe BIA, the Rideau Centre, Sparks Street Mall and the Loblaws Supermarket at 363 Rideau Street, unless any businesses within those areas fall under an exemption under the Remembrance Day By-law as noted above
      • in other words, their “tourist area exemption” cannot be used on November 11th. Many of their businesses will have to be closed until 12:30 p.m., unless they fall under an exemption in the by-law (e.g. news stand) or the by-law does not apply to them in general (e.g. restaurants)
    • Street vendors on:
      • Rideau Street or Wellington Street between Sussex Drive and Metcalfe Street
      • Elgin Street between Wellington Street and Queen Street
    • travel agents
    • eyeglass retailers (i.e. the portion of the space in which eyeglasses are sold)
  • In the case of car dealerships that also operate repair shops, the retail sales portion of the dealership must be closed to the public. Where the repair portion does not have a separate entrance, clients should be notified that the retail portion is closed (e.g. via signage).

Note that retail businesses which are required to close under the by-law and are normally open 24 hours, are required to be closed from 8:00 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. on November 11th.

For more information, you may refer to the Remembrance Day By-law or contact the City of Ottawa’s By-law and Regulatory Services at 613-580-2424, ext. 12735.