Better sidewalk protection still eludes Ottawa

Back in December I railed against the sorry state of sidewalk protection at construction sites: Pedestrian safety sheds: treat people like sh*t and they won’t come!  It is well worth re-reading.


On a recent visit to the Centre of the Universe (TM„) I was delighted to come across the NYC-designed scaffolding in use closer to home. There is now officially hope that in Jim Watson’s eighth term of office, we might see something similar, but just on a demonstration basis, of course.



First, notice the solid concrete barrier between the pedestrians and the traffic, the construction vehicles, and the slush and spray of the road. Then notice the clear plastic ceiling, letting in lots of light (let’s hope that is very strong plastic…). And notice on the following pictures that the top foot or so of the outside wall is also clear plastic, offering rain and dust protection.



Notice the arched tops of the scaffolding, clean and elegant, making this temporary tunnel interesting and inviting to walk along.


On the construction site side of the shed, the walls are covered with glossy full colour posters advertising the merits of the builder/contrtactor, the building sponsor/tenent (in this case, Ryerson U school of image arts), and some illustrations of what the hole will eventually grow into, thus inspiring hope in the pedestrian that disruption is for a higher purpose and eventual good.

At night, some of the solid roofing elements have been fitted with LED or rope lighting, giving this a fun atmosphere, almost enchanting.





Now, go back and look at the picture of the standard Ottawa drooling-with-contempt-for-pedestrians misuse of standard construction scaffolding that passes for “pedestrian protection” .

If we are having to wait another 8 to 10 years before we see some of the glorious improvements to the downtown proposed in the Downtown Moves strategy document, at least we could get some decent pedestrian sheds in place during the construction period,



The last time I wrote on this subject and our sad sheds is:

2 thoughts on “Better sidewalk protection still eludes Ottawa

  1. Eric,

    What a coincidence that you are writing about this. My wife and I were in Toronto this past weekend and noticed these elegant ped shelters on our walks along Yonge Street and also on Bloor at University Ave. I immediately commented upon seeing them that “they don’t do this in Ottawa”. Too bad though. As much as I like to poke fun at the City of Toronto they sure know how to build things and treat their pedestrians right! Cheers, M

  2. Hi Eric,

    Let me bring your attention to the Construction regulations which address the functionality, if not the esthetics, of hoardings.

    Public Way Protection

    64. (1) No work shall be carried out on a building or structure located within 4.5 metres of a public way unless a covered way is constructed over the part of the public way that is adjacent to the project. O. Reg. 213/91, s. 64 (1).

    (2) Subsection (1) does not apply with respect to a building or structure if the work being done is enclosed. O. Reg. 213/91, s. 64 (2).

    (3) A covered way,

    (a) shall have an unobstructed height of not less than 2.4 metres;

    (b) shall have an unobstructed width of not less than 1.1 metres or, if it is over a sidewalk that is less than 1.1 metres wide, have a width equal to the width of the sidewalk;

    (c) shall be capable of supporting any load likely to be applied to it and capable of supporting a load of at least 2.4 kilonewtons per square metre;

    (d) shall have a weather-tight roof;

    (e) shall have the side adjacent to the project covered with a partition that has a smooth surface on the public way side;

    (f) shall have a railing one metre high from ground level on the street side; and

    (g) shall have adequate lighting within the public way. O. Reg. 213/91, s. 64 (3).

    You can complain to the Ministry of Labour if a hoarding is non compliant.

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