A dispute between neighbours in Mississauga has resulted in one of the strictest bylaws in the country when it comes to clotheslines.

The rules limit clotheslines in the following ways:

  • Only one backyard clothesline allowed per household.
  • They must be at least 1.5 metres from the fence line and no more than three metres above the ground.
  • Lines must be hung in a straight line.

Steve DeVoe saw clotheslines every time he looked into his neighbour's backyard, sometimes as many as 18 stretching of them stretching 20 feet in the air.

"Some days it's underwear day and there will be nothing but a 100 pieces of underwear and socks up there," he told CBC News. "We can't entertain anybody without them walking in the backyard going 'What the heck is going on there?'"

DeVoe said his neighbour starting putting up the multiple clotheslines four years ago after DeVoe built a bigger house.

It was DeVoe's letter to Mississauga City council that prompted the bylaw change.

Franz Hartmann of the Toronto Environmental alliance is unhappy with the new bylaw, which he says is "completely unnecessary" and could lead to fewer residents using clotheslines.

He believes DeVoe's dispute should have been resolved through mediation and says Mississauga is sending the wrong message with the bylaw.

"[Using clotheslines] is good for the environment," Hartmann told CBC News. "It's good for keeping energy costs down and it's probably good for keeping hydro costs down. Now people may think twice about putting up a clothes line because they think to themselves there's some laws I have to follow and that makes it too complicated."

The bylaw is now in effect and most of the clotheslines next door to DeVoe have come down.