tim hortons queen street

Uproar after Tim Hortons posts sign giving customers 30 minute time limit

A controversial sign posted in an Ottawa Tim Hortons caused uproar among residents for warning customers they were only allowed to be in the cafe for 30 minutes after their purchase.

The sign said that after the 30 minute time limit, customers still inside the store would be considered trespassers and police would be notified.

Major outrage and criticism ensued, and the sign has since been taken down. 

"This is to inform you that under the Trespass to Property Act, that you are not under any circumstances, permitted access to, or be on the premises of, Tim Horton’s 330 Queen St Ottawa," the sign stated.

"This notification is to clear the place within 30 minutes after purchase Tim Horton’s product, failure to do so will consider as a trespassing, the Ottawa Police Service will be contacted, who will be instructed to charge you under the Trespass to Property Act. A copy of this letter has been sent to the Ottawa Carleton Police."

According to CTV News, a Tim Hortons spokesperson said the sign was meant to address specific loitering issues that had arisen at this particular location. 

"The restaurant was attempting to deal with a few isolated issues of extreme loitering, but the sign doesn’t reflect our values of creating a welcoming environment, so it has been removed," they said.

But many aren't buying it. 

Ottawa city councillor Catherine McKenney told CTV the sign discriminates against people who are homeless, seniors and people with disabilities. 

And many social media users seem to agree. 

"This is gross," one user wrote online. "Staff said it was 'for the safety of customers' — It’s very clear who this sign is meant for and practices like this are shameful, especially in the winter when some people could use a place to warm up for a while."

"Perhaps loitering concerns and problem customers are signs of an underlying community need for more free, welcoming public gathering spaces that are safe, well-maintained and accessible to all?" another pointed out.

But others are saying they agree with the sign, explaining that loitering is real problem in downtown Ottawa and businesses should be able to handle it however they see fit.

Still, the vast majority seem to agree that no business should be calling the police on people who don't leave after an allotted time slot. 

Lead photo by

Grant Signs

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