Mill Bay’s Judy van der Boom is wondering why more people aren’t using clotheslines anymore. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)

2019 in Review: The great clothesline debate heated up in Cowichan

Letter, story prompt aesthetics vs. energy saving debate

It was the spring of 2019 when a letter to the Citizen took us by surprise. Not so much the letter’s contents, but the response it received.

The letter, penned by Mill Bay’s Judy van der Boom, questioned “Why are there so few clotheslines?”

READ THE LETTER: Why are there so few clotheslines?

We wondered too and so we followed up with Van der Boom to learn more.

For her situation, anyway, it turned out that the strata development she lives in, Mill Springs, prohibits clotheslines. With a large lot, and plenty of fenced backyard privacy to air out her laundry, she was seeking to change the rules.

Van der Boom had previously sent a request to her strata council for a reversal in 2017 but never heard back.

READ MORE: Mill Bay woman wants clotheslines allowed in her strata

Frustrated, in April of this year, she tried again, thinking she’d have another shot at it given the property management company had changed.

It was around the same time she contacted the paper.

The issue was more controversial than one would think, garnering quite a bit of attention on the Citizen’s website and on Facebook.

“When I was a child, hanging out laundry was an art, the clothes coming in smelled wonderful, I love seeing laundry out,” wrote Joan O’Ryan in support.

Others, wondered why she opted to buy in a strata that outlawed putting your laundry out to dry.

“Read the strata rules and bylaws,” offered Pat Gallant. “If you don’t like the rules, don’t buy! I personally don’t mind the umbrella type. The long line out full of someone’s else’s laundry hung out more than necessary is not what I want to stare at when relaxing on my deck/patio. Sorry!”

Exactly, agreed Lori Acheson Hamilton.

“Why do stratas ban clotheslines? Because the majority of owners don’t want to look at laundry hanging outside. Their strata, their choice,” she said.

But many pointed to the current appetite for addressing climate change and how it should override aesthetics.

“Stop using your dryer and use nature’s wind instead? Come on, it’s a no brainer. Should absolutely NOT be banned, especially when collectively we should be working to reduce energy consumption…,” wrote Terri Evans.

“In this time of climate change why forcing people to use a dryer?” added Evelyne Penin.

Van der Boom touched base with the Citizen again in early December with an update on her clothesline saga.

“Aargh! Incredible! I’m no further than at the beginning of this year,” she said. “Now I know why I’m not in politics!”

It seems that on Dec. 6, she received a letter letting her know that her simple request had been denied.

“An Annual General Meeting will be held again in 2020. A proposed clothesline bylaw will be presented to the owners at that time for a vote,” wrote strata manager Melissa Ruyter.

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