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Local Directory for Ottawa, ON


Making up new laws

Earlier this year, Italy granted sweeping new powers to its municipalities to create laws that they believe will reduce crime and anti-social behaviour. Given that you can get some very strange people running municipalities (I’m looking at you, Toronto), I wouldn’t be surprised if some very strange laws were put into place.

So far, the new laws range from implementing dress codes to prohibiting panhandling. One municipality forbids the building of sandcastles. Another no longer permits the playing of football in public places. Also on the chopping block: feeding pigeons, kissing in cars, wearing wooden clogs and feeding stray cats.

Of course it varies from town to town. Three people are not permitted to share a bench after 11:00 pm in one town, whereas you’re not allowed to put your feet on a bench in another.

Incidentally, Italy now has a “Minister of Simplification,” whose job it is to identify and eliminate redundant laws. I’m not even kidding.

Personally, I think we’re all over-regulated to begin with. But if we had this kind of power here, and I were in charge, I’d make it illegal to spit on the sidewalk.

How about you? What laws would you create?

16 comments to Making up new laws

  • I’d like to outlaw leaf blowers. And force everyone to recycle – only about 12% locally participate in curbside recycling here. And make sidewalks and bike lanes a requirement on all streets. But don’t take away my pink flamingos!

  • The first thing we do, let’s leash all the dogcatchers…

  • redfraggle

    NOOOOOOoooo.. please don’t make it illegal to spit on the sidewalk. Seriously, Nauseated all the time I spit constantly – it stops me from throwing up on the sidewalk! You really have to watch that trying to avoid one issue with regulation doesn’t cause another.

  • Abby, I’m totally with you on everything. I despise leaf blowers and love pink flamingos.

    Coyote, okay, we’ll leash the dogcatchers. And I think it should be an offense NOT to feed stray cats.

    Redfraggle, how about a compromise on the sidewalk spitting. No spitting on the sidewalk UNLESS you’re pregnant. How’s that? (I hope you get over the morning sickness soon – that sounds awful.)

  • They should pass a law that they can’t pass a law unless they delete one first. I mean didn’t we start out with just 10.

  • Abby – Residential waste is only a fraction of what goes into our landfills. It’s a jurisdictional problem; the province controls industrial, commercial and institutional (ICI) waste and doesn’t seem to care about it. For those residents who do recycle, most of them put a lot of unrecyclable stuff in their blue bins (like coffee cup lids, styrofoam, plastic wrap/bags, and plastic bakery containers, none of which aren’t recyclable in Ottawa), or put things in the wrong bin (milk cartons and juice boxes go in the blue bin, and wax-lined ‘paper’ drink cups go in the green bin). See As for bike lanes, there’s a more nuanced argument (which I won’t get into) for why it’s not good to have them on all streets.

    Zoom – Regina recently lifted its ban on panhandling. Ottawa has a ban on “vending” which constitutes giving something away (for money or not) without intention of getting it back (to prohibit panhandlers from selling newspapers), swearing is not permitted in Ottawa parks, and most parks have a curfew of 11pm. There was also the law the City passed this year that restricted busking in the Byward market to one-hour time slots in designated areas, and for which buskers have to purchase a $200 permit.

    There was that law Kanata passed in the late ’90s that banned spitting, and I think something about catapulting cows. There’s also those laws on what colour you can paint your house. Ontario recently passed a law that says municipalities can no longer ban clotheslines, but then they also recently banned incandescent lightbulbs (which are now being sold as “heaters” that also give out light). You’re not allowed to coast on a bicycle (i.e. ride without pedalling–that’s been on the books since the late 1800s). I think they recently got rid of the by-law that banned walking backwards on Bank Street with ice cream on a Sunday (I may be mixing up one or two, and only ever heard of that second- or third-hand).

    So yeah, we’ve got our share of interesting laws here in Ottawa, not to mention the ones that some of us like and others think are crazy (like various other things permits are required for, like building permit type things, most of which I agree with).

    – RG>

  • Forgot to hit “notify of follow up comments” button…

    – RG>

  • I’m with Redfraggle on the spitting. I remember the winter after Nature Girl was born – so she was 6 or 7 months old Darkmirror saw frozen vomit on the sidewalk and asked if it was mine! Really you have a choice with hyperemesis gravida: vomit, or spit and retch as you go!

    Laws I would put in place: You need a special license in order to have an unfixed dog or cat. The penalty for not having the license would be the animal gets spay/neutered you pay that fee plus a fine that goes to the SPCA.

    Stores would be required to have transparent purchasing policies regarding produce and meat so you could see where it came from.

    “Greenwashing” in advertising would be illegal. With strict fines and required transparency then a ban on further advertising of any kind for a period of time.

    Lawn and garden pesticides and herbicides would be banned for home use, city parks, and on golf courses.

    Clear garbage bags would be required for garbage pick up. If you were found to be throwing out compostables or recyclables in your garbage bags you would be required to attend a 6 week course (all day Saturdays or Sundays – paid for with your fine) where you were educated on the environmental impact of trash, learned how to sort your waste. To graduate you would be required to work a shift at the recycling depot and landfill.

  • future landfill

    But it’s ok if I spit on the roadway, right? Or on the lawn next to the sidewalk? I mean, sometimes you just gotta expectorate; you’ve horked up that phlegm-y goo from your bronchs and you’re gonna what? swallow it?

  • Grace

    I vote for a law against recreational spitting which is how I view most of it. I’ve never had a pregnant lady or tubercular looking stroller look me straight in the eye and land one at my feet. Manners people, jeez. Don’t get me started on leaf blowers.

  • Right turns on red. Any car on the sidewalk, ever. Trucks idling their engines. Grrrr.

  • Hey Robin, idling IS illegal here. I kinda thought it was a widespread thing? You can only idle if it’s wicked hot or wicked cold and need your air/heater on.

    • I think most of my peeves are already illegal, but none of them are enforced as far as I can see. Right turns on red aren’t illegal but they should be. Few drivers are capable of performing them without endangering pedestrians and cyclists. Especially those morons that are talking on the phone as they mow me down. I’m feeling very peevish about drivers these days!

  • Dave, why didn’t I think of that??

    Grouchy, you’re right, we do have our share of inane laws. Busking worked just fine until they decided to regulate it and screw it up. I remember the no-clothesline laws in Kanata – I love clotheslines! I love the idea of them and the look of them. I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to outlaw them. But a friend who lived in Kanata told me it was because the sight of other people’s underwear flapping in the breeze offends the delicate sensibilities of civilized folk.

    Mudmama and Landfill – I had no idea so many people had legitimate reasons for horking and spitting. Okay, if you HAVE to, go ahead. But not on the sidewalk! In the gutter! In your hanky! In your purse! In your pocket! But not on the sidewalk unless it’s absolutely unavoidable. Okay?

    Mudmama – hmmm, you’re tough! A six-week course?? Is there really that much to know about composting and recycling? Wouldn’t a day or two be enough? As for lawn and garden pesticides and herbicides, they’ve been outlawed here in Ontario, and I’m really happy about that. Pesticides are bad for all living things, not just weeds and bugs. I love dogs, cats, children and birds more than I love perfect grass. My hematologist believes there’s a definite link between pesticide use and the rising rates of childhood cancers.

    Grace, off with their heads!

    Robin, are you feeling peevish about drivers because of personal experience, or because they’ve mowed down so many innocent cyclists and pedestrians this year? It really has been a bumper year for this kind of thing.

  • Well see, I think recycling is a no brainer, as is composting so if someone is just dumping everything in one bag it isn’t because they can’t read the list of allowable things to compost or recycle, its because they don’t give a shit. So this would be an intensive course to teach them about the entire cycle of life of consumer goods. We’d start simple – have them watch The Story of Stuff, and then hit them hard with the plastic island in the pacific, serve up deformed fish for lunch, etc. Sorta like john school, but more vitally important.

  • Not really about new laws, but since you mentioned the new mayor of Toronto, I was thinking that, to cheer people up, it is possible that he might not be around for very long.

    Sometimes when I see an overweight politician, and especially today, when new Toronto Mayor Rob Ford was mocked in the Citizen by Barry McLoughlin, I think of John Goodman’s line in The West Wing.

    In Season 5, Episode 1, the president has stepped away from the office and the Republican Speaker of the House assumes the presidency because there is no vice president. The Speaker Glenallen Walken, played by the large John Goodman, urges everyone to hurry up and choose a vice president because, “In case you boys haven’t noticed, I’m one prime rib dinner away from sudden cardiac arrest.”