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8 Of The Weirdest Ottawa Bylaws You Won't Believe Actually Exist

Bad news if you have more than 5 cats.

​Two cats climb on a person. Right: Ottawa bylaw officer.

Two cats climb on a person. Right: Ottawa bylaw officer.

Contributing Writer

When you live in a city, it’s great to know what you can and can’t do.

Ottawa has some pretty common city bylaws, but others are a bit more surprising — and sometimes bizarre — despite the fact they can land you some hefty fines.

Here are some of the weirdest rules in the nation's capital.

1. You can't idle your vehicle when it's between 5 and 27 degrees

It’s illegal to idle your vehicle for more than three minutes per hour when temperatures range from 5 C to 27 C in Ottawa.

Why the specific temperature range?

"Idling is allowed during extreme outdoor temperatures to ensure that an occupied vehicle’s interior can be heated or cooled," reads the city's Idling Control bylaw.

However, you won’t get dinged if you’re running a hybrid vehicle or school bus.

2. Your rental unit must be at least 20 degrees during the day

**According to the Heat bylaw, if a landlord pays for heating and sets the temperature of the building for their tenants, those temperatures can't be lower than 20 degrees from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m, while heat can't go below 16.67 degrees overnight (from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.).

So, if your apartment isn’t warm enough during the chilly winter months, it might be worth speaking to your landlord about it. A dwelling "is normally heated by or at the expense of the landlord," according to this rule.

3. You might be banned from street parking if there's 7 cm of snow

Between November 15 and April 1, the city might ban people from parking on the street if Environment Canada predicts 7 cm or more of snow in Ottawa.**

According to the Winter Parking bylaw, which also applies to freezing rain, the ban was put in place to help with snow clearing.

"This includes any forecast for a range of snow more than 7 cm, such as 5 to 10 cm. The Winter Weather Parking Ban will be called to support clearing operations and will continue until the City issues notice that it has been lifted," as per the City of Ottawa.

"Vehicles without a residential parking permit that are parked on the street during a parking ban may be ticketed and towed," reads the bylaw.

Notably, the parking ban only applies when it has been called into effect by the Director of Roads and Parking Services.

Thankfully, the winter parking ban doesn't apply if you have a residential parking permit.

4. Shouting can land you a heavy fine

You might want to keep your voice down when there's a special event going on in the city.

Folks are prohibited from shouting or causing any noise “likely to disturb the inhabitants of the City” under Ottawa's Noise bylaw.

**Typically, this form of noise pollution can get you a $490 ticket, which may go up to $1,000 after court approvals, during special events.

5. You can't ride a bike while carrying a package on a highway

You also might want to think twice about how you deliver your packages.

In the capital city, you can't ride your bike on a highway while carrying a package or anything that "prevents the rider from keeping both hands on the handlebars."

The rule was made so "riders maintain control of their bicycle, "Phil Landry, director of traffic services, said in an email to Narcity.

6. You can’t own more than five cats

Did you know that you can only own as many as five cats in Ottawa?

There are some exceptions, though. You can keep more cats if they’re under 20 weeks old, and if you’re registered to have foster animals or live in a rural area, the law doesn’t apply.

**The pet cap also applies to dogs; according to Section 50 of the Animal Care and Control bylaw, the max you can have over 20 weeks of age is three — regardless of the number of cats you own.

7. It’s illegal for your cat to be noisy and obnoxious

Although your furry feline is allowed outdoors, you’ll be in trouble if it causes a ruckus.

The cat can’t be causing a nuisance or disturbance to someone, or their property, in a residential area. It’s illegal for any animal to be noisy if it disturbs someone’s “peace, quiet, rest, enjoyment, or comfort” in Ottawa.

So, be sure to watch Felix closely because “the Chief of Police or a By-law Officer may seize the cat provided the cat is contained and may cause the cat to be delivered to the pound.”

8. Construction could go on until 10 pm

You might hear construction going on late at night in O-town.

As per the Noise bylaw, building development can go on between 7am and 10 pm, from Monday to Saturday. On Sunday, the hours are pushed back to 9am-10pm.

**However, these hours may vary depending on the type of construction project and whether noise exemptions have been issued.

Construction hours end earlier in other municipalities. For example, construction can’t go past 7 p.m. in Toronto.

**Editor's Note: This article has been updated with inputs from the City of Ottawa.

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