Confessions of a Bylaw Breaker


Canada has its share of strange laws that could be reversed tomorrow with minimal public outcry. Like the one where you can’t water your grass in Nova Scotia when it’s raining, or the one that states its illegal to drag a dead horse down Yonge Street in Toronto on a Sunday. Actually, it wouldn’t hurt to beef that last one up a bit to include ANYTHING that’s dead and every day of the week, but our lawmakers may never get around to that one in my lifetime. Or anyone elses.

But that’s the crazy east end of the country. Here in the west we have to deal with way more pressing issues, although I’m happy to report there’s one that doesn’t keep Albertans awake at night anymore. It is no longer a requirement of law to supply a prisoner being released from jail with a gun and a horse to ride out of town. I mean seriously, what would become of all those poor horses, never mind the nightmarish quantity of gun law paperwork you’d need to complete for acquisition permits that might not be approved before the applicant died of old age.

Anyway, here’s the law (well it’s actually just a minor little by-law) that I would like reversed. In this place where I live it is against the law to have a clothesline in your backyard. Every time I look out my kitchen window I am reminded that I am blatantly breaking this strange regulation. There has been a clothesline out there for probably 25 years. It was there when we moved in, and even though the previous owners advised us of this law, we just have never gotten around to obeying it. I suppose if the bylaw officers suddenly show up at our house to do a property inspection that we could plead ignorance; or call it a low flying aircraft deterrent; or just look shocked and exclaim OMG where did THAT thing come from? (Although if there are things hanging on it, that last one will lose some credibility.)

There are five other backyards partially visible from ours, but not one of these neighbors has ever registered a clothesline related complaint about us, that I’m aware of, anyway. W. probably breaks some kind of noise bylaw when he talks on his cell phone in the backyard, but that’s a whole other story. I thought once about getting out our heavy-duty binoculars and climbing up on the garage roof to have a good look around the neighborhood for other clothesline transgressors. Fortunately some other matter distracted me before I could work out all the details.

The clothesline doesn’t get used a lot, and we’re pretty selective about what we put out there for the world to see. Mostly sheets, hopefully with no gaping holes in them, and big towels that take forever in the dryer. You’d think they should be giving out some kind of tax incentive for people like us who save all that dryer energy with our environmentally friendly laundry hanging. But I don’t know what the penalty is for covertly performing this illegal activity, so I won’t be the one who brings it up at the next bylaw meeting. If they even have such things. And having gone 25 years undetected and unreported, I would venture to guess that our bylaw officers have their priorities all screwed up with photo radar traps or some such other unimportant nonsense.

I’ve shared this information with you in strictest confidence. Please do not report me. I still have those binoculars around here somewhere.

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