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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 on My ServiceOttawa by creating a user account and using the service request option:

  • Animal care and control
  • Care of streets
  • Minimum temperature (rental units)
  • Noise
  • Park
  • Parking
  • Inadequate yard maintenance
  • Smoking - Public Place
  • Smoking - Workplace
  • Weeds

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

  • Business licensing
  • Discharge of firearms
  • Fence height
  • Idling
  • Pool enclosures
  • Portable and temporary signs
  • Taxis

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

How property complaints are managed

The following applies to complaints regarding the exterior of a building only.

Property Standards and Property Maintenance resolution timelines vary based on the nature of the complaint and are generally resolved between 19-30 days depending on considerations for compliance deadlines, including weather conditions, scope of work, and contractor availability.

  1. Complaint received
  2. By-law Officer assigned
  3. Investigation
    1. Officer contacts complainant within four business days of being assigned to the investigation
  4. Inspection
  5. Possible enforcement
    1. Verbal warning
    2. By-law Infraction Notice
    3. Notice of Violation
    4. Property Standards Order
      Officer informs the property owner and the complainant of timelines for compliance
  6. Remedial Action
    1. Property owner corrects violations within the prescribed timelines
  7. Re-inspection
    1. In situations of non-compliance:
      1. Property owner may be fined
      2. The City may arrange for remediation through a third-party company and apply the cost to the property owner
  8. Final steps
    1. Complainant receives an update
    2. By-law and Regulatory Services closes the case once compliance has been achieved
The step-by-step process of how property complaints are managed

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

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 centimetres (60 cm) in width or seventy-five centimetres (75 cm) in length, and a height not less than fifty centimetres (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 centimetres (50 cm) high.


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.


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.


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.