A-frame signs reducing accessibility in ByWard Market

Some people say restrictions on sidewalk A-frame signs aren't being enforced, and that it's affecting accessibility in places such as the ByWard Market.

Some say restrictions on sidewalk signs aren't enforced enough

Sandwich-board signs are restricting accessibility on ByWard Market, Elgin St. sidewalks, some say. 2:44

Some people say restrictions on sidewalk A-frame signs aren't being enforced, and that it's affecting accessibility in places such as the ByWard Market.

Nicole Therien and her boyfriend Adam visit the market often.

Nicole Therien says it's difficult to navigate the ByWard Market in her motorized wheelchair because some businesses don't follow the rules about leaving enough space to use the sidewalk. (CBC)

"Some sidewalks are wide enough, but the one where I live, there's barely enough room to get a wheelchair and another person walking beside us," Therien said. "And for me it almost took getting hit by a car to get the city to pay attention."

A-frame signs are legal to have but there are restrictions. The current bylaw says there has to be at least 1.8 metres of sidewalk available for pedestrian traffic.

Liz MacKenzie, a member of the Lowertown Community Association, said enforcement is difficult.

"We've complained and complained ... but bylaw only reacts on a reactive basis. So every time you see a sign, you've got to call bylaw," MacKenzie said.

"It's very, very difficult to make any progress."

'It's a never-ending battle,' councillor says

Coun. Mathieu Fleury said it's been an issue for years. Some businesses don't provide the required 1.8 metres of space, even after business improvement associations sends out warning letters.

Businesses are supposed to leave 1.8 metres of free sidewalk space. (CBC)

"It's a never-ending battle. The BIA in our area, in the ByWard Market, sent letters to all the business owners who were problematic ..." Fleury said.

"We do have people who respect the bylaws, but what happens is that there's so much turnover and part-time staff, that sometimes they make their way back into locations that are problematic, so it's an ongoing battle ... to get some compliance."

Some business owners told CBC News they weren't aware of any restrictions on A-frame signs.

The fine for failing to provide 1.8 metres of space ranges from $100 to $300, which Fleury said isn't implemented often.

Fleury said sidewalks should be bigger and more pedestrian friendly in general.

On Elgin Street, he said, a pilot project is underway to increase the required available space from 1.8 to two metres.

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