Laundry Law: Stringing a Line

credit: martcatnoc – flickr

A recent opinion piece in the New Scientist, “‘Right to dry’ could wean Americans off consumption,” by Alexander Lee, talks about how much energy could be saved if we dried our clothes on a line rather than in a tumble dryer, and about the various property rules and regs that restrict or outright forbid clotheslines. Lee runs Project Laundry List, which estimates that dryers are responsible for 10 to 15 per cent of the energy consumed by U.S. households.

This reminded me that we reported on Ontario’s ban of clothesline banning about a year and a half ago. At that time the relevant legislation was the captivatingly captioned Energy Conservation Leadership Act, 2006. That is now a dead letter, and the authority has been transferred to section 4 of the Green Energy Act, 2009, in force since early last month.

Clotheslines now get their explicit protection under O. Reg. 97/08 pursuant to the Green Energy Act. I’m going to set out here a bit of that statutory material because I find it interesting to see how it deals with such humble, domestic objects and practices.

1. The following are designated for the purposes of subsection 3 (1) [sic] of the Act:

  1. Clotheslines.
  2. Clothestrees.
  3. Any goods and technologies that have a purpose that is the same as a clothesline or clothestree, and no other purpose…

I wouldn’t have thought to mention “clothestrees,” but I can see that it makes sense. But what of that “and no other purpose” proviso? Would a bush become “designated” if I draped my shirt over it to dry, or does the bush have an “other purpose”? Does this fail to protect my balcony railing if I use it as a clothestree?

There’s probably not a lot in laundry law to support practitioners, even in these hard times. So questions like these will likely go unanswered, I fear.


  1. Don’t be too quick to rule out the laundry law! This issue falls within the “people, pets and parking” type of cases that we condo lawyers deal with every day.

    An example close to clothestrees is the “flagtree” at a local condo that made the newspapers this summer. See:

    In that case, the flag offended the condo’s rules and regulations because of the way it was hung (it was casually hanging in a tree). Hanging longjohns from a tree or bush at a condo complex will surely generate a similar type of response from the condo corporation and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a case of that sort going through mediation and arbitration one day.

    I was waiting to see when the protections for clotheslines and clothestrees as in the regs under the now-repealed Energy Conservation Leadership Act were going to be enacted under the Green Energy Act, but I am scratching my head about the legislative authority for “transferring” a regulation made under one Act (which is subsequently repealed) to a new Act.

    I look at the Legislation Act, 2006 but see no help there.

    What am I missing?

  2. Two regulations from statutes repealed by the Green Energy Act have now appeared as regulations under that Act. They were originally created under the Energy Efficiency Act, 1995 and (as noted in this thread) the Energy Conservation Leadership Act, 2006.

    This happens under the authority of subsection 52(6) of the Legislation Act, 2006, which reads:
    “If an Act under which a regulation has been made is replaced or amended, the regulation remains in force to the extent that it is authorized by the new or amended Act.”

    If the regulation is to remain in force but the Act under which it was made is replaced, then in order that the regulation can continue to be found, it must be listed under the replacement statute.

  3. John G: Thanks for clarifying that.

    I guess my problem is that it’s not clear how an old regulation is “authorized” by the new or amended act or, as you say, how a regulation is “listed” under a new act. I guess that’s the behind-the-scenes action. Thanks again for shedding the light on this.