After much discussion and consultation, Carleton Place town staff have proposed a set of draft guidelines that would help keep downtown’s sidewalks free of congestion and obstacles. The physical environment committee’s Nov. 7 meeting heard about plans to improve the placement of temporary objects including sandwich board signs, merchandise displays, moveable seating and tables, planters, and removable accessibility ramps, while keeping an eye on pedestrian flow and prioritizing snow removal needs.
The main thrust of the new guidelines is maintaining a 1.5 metre (five foot) pedestrian clearway that hews to as straight a line as possible on any given block, taking into consideration permanent structures and existing infrastructure. Staff report that the proposal is a living document that will be subject to ongoing input as they seek to accommodate the multiple interests of beautification, business promotion, and accessibility.
Kory Earle, who chairs the town’s accessibility advisory committee, enthused that the guidelines were an excellent start. “We 150 per cent support them,” he told the committee, adding he felt they were fair to all concerned parties. Earle also declared that his committee would be happy to help work through any challenges that arise in their application.
Meanwhile, staff have also met with the BIA coordinator, and the guidelines will be shared for comment with their members at a Nov.8 meeting.
Deputy Clerk Stacey Blair said the guidelines are a “common-sense solution” that avoid the need for a by-law, and instead focus on education. Failure to abide by the proposed benchmarks will result in a formal letter explaining the guidelines and warning that future obstructions may be removed by the town.
“Communication will be the key to the success of these guidelines,” she added, noting “sometimes there can be a problem because perhaps a store owner isn’t even aware there’s an issue. So by working cooperatively through this, we can achieve common goals.”
Among the guidelines’ restrictions is the removal of temporary objects outside of business hours, as well as the their prompt removal whenever storm advisories or warnings are issued by Environment Canada.
Objects should not be placed on sidewalks during periods of ice and snow accumulation, and the town will accept no responsibility or liability for any objects (including accessibility ramps) damaged by snow clearing operations. Temporary objects also must not be placed within three metres of an intersecting street as measured either from the curb or, in a curb’s absence, the edge of the roadway.
Following the receipt of final input, the guidelines will appear before the town council for final adoption.