Sidewalk Obstructions and Removal
The City of Vancouver has dedicated land as “public right-of-way” for streets, sidewalks, utilities and similar public uses. These areas are for everyone’s use, and to protect public health and safety, it is important to keep public right-of-way areas free of obstructions. All encroachments (any object, structure or vegetation) that fail to allow the lawful passage of vehicular and pedestrian traffic on any street, alley, easement or sidewalk must be eliminated and/or maintained at all times.
Trees, shrubs and other plants play an important role in keeping Vancouver green and safe. Well-placed and well-maintained trees and vegetation can have a positive impact on people’s behavior and perception, resulting in improved safety. Overgrown trees and shrubs can block a path or walkway or even block the view of traffic signs, signals, vehicles and people. Trimming vegetation and caring for street trees are effective ways community members and public works agencies can enhance neighborhood safety.
Property owners are responsible for maintaining sidewalks abutting their property. When residents report sidewalk obstructions, Sidewalk Management staff will inspect the site and issue correction notices to property owners which include information regarding the obstructions found. Below are common types of sidewalk obstructions and recommendations and guidelines for obstruction removal.
Horizontal encroachment over the sidewalk
Horizontal encroachment occurs when shrubs, plants and other fixed objects grow out or extend over the sidewalk.
- Shrubs and plants should be trimmed a minimum of 4 inches clear of the edge of the sidewalk. This allows for regrowth and ease of future trimming.
- If the encroachment is due to a fixed object, the object should be moved or removed out of the sidewalk area.
Vertical encroachment on the sidewalk
A vertical encroachment occurs when tree limbs or fixed objects extend out over the sidewalk less than eighty-four inches (84”) from the sidewalk.
- Shrubs, plants and limbs should be trimmed to a minimum height of 8 feet from the ground over the sidewalk or 14 feet above the curb over the street.
Grass/groundcover encroaching onto the sidewalk
Grass and groundcover encroachments occur when grasses or groundcover grows out over the sidewalk.
- Grass/groundcover should be trimmed back to the edges on all sides of the sidewalk.
Sidewalk does not have a clean, passable surface
This problem occurs when dirt, moss, snow, leaves and other debris covers the sidewalk surface.
- Remove all debris, including rocks, dirt/mud, and moss from the sidewalk, or any excessive weed growth in the joints/cracks.
- Snow and ice removal is the responsibility of the adjacent property owner.
Sidewalk is obstructed by an object (basketball hoop, vehicle, garbage, etc.)
These obstructions are temporary in nature; objects can be easily moved.
- Remove obstruction immediately to allow full pedestrian access (minimum of 4-foot width) at all times.