Don’t paint a wooden ladder in Alberta & 11 more quirky Canadian laws

Wooden ladder
Turns out Taber, Alberta isn't the only town with strange laws in Canada. IS / LEHTIKUVA / Ulla-Maija Lähteenmäki

CALGARY – A sweeping bylaw with fines up to $150 for screaming, swearing and spitting in public caught the attention of many Albertans when it was passed last Thursday in the town of Taber. It drew comparisons to the 1980s teen flick Footloose—which outlawed dancing—but it turns out Taber’s laws aren’t so different from other Canadian cities.

Calgary’s bylaws related to public behaviour include fines between $50 and $300 for spitting, loitering or “placing one’s feet on tables, benches, planters or sculptures” in a public place.

There are also laws against screaming, yelling or swearing in public places as well as spitting on any public or private property that they don’t own in Red Deer—as well as a curfew period between 12 a.m. and 6 a.m. for those under 16 years of age.

READ MORE: Sweeping bylaw in Alberta town outlaws public swearing and spitting

While it’s well understood that fines for such behaviour would only be enforced in extreme circumstances, there are some other quirky bylaws across the country that are technically still in use. Here’s a look at some quirky Canadian laws.

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  1. Halifax taxi drivers can’t wear T-shirts or casual shorts. The city’s bylaw says they need a “shirt or military type blouse with a collar and sleeves” along with “ankle-length trousers, or dress shorts which are worn within at least three inches of the knee.” Female drivers, however, can wear a skirt if they so desire.
  1. Don’t wear or carry a snake—or any other reptile—in public in Fredericton, New Brunswick. The law says you can, however, take one on the street or in a public place if they’re in a case, cage or “other container designed in such a fashion that it will completely confine such snake or reptile.”
    This would not be allowed in Fredericton, New Brunswick.
    This would not be allowed in Fredericton, New Brunswick.
  1. Clotheslines are only allowed in Montreal backyards with four units or less. “They are prohibited in all other cases,” says the city’s website.
  1. In Canada, there are limits on how many coins you can use to buy something. For example, the federal government website says the limit is $25 if you’re using loonies; $5 if the denomination is nickels and 25 cents if you’re using pennies. For the full list of limits, click here.
  1. You cannot paint a wooden ladder in Alberta, according to 2009’s Occupational Health and Safety Code. This is apparently to ensure you can tell the condition of such a ladder, since “a wooden ladder may be preserved with a transparent protective coating,” according to the code.

In the Greater Toronto Area, York Regional Police even went on a Twitter campaign using the hashtag #obscurecdnlaws to draw attention to strange Canadian laws last June. Here are some highlights from the Global Police Tweet-a-thon day:

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