As the weather warms up, Okotokians might want to give their car a wash

While there's no bylaw expressly forbidding the washing of cars in Okotoks driveways, there are some bylaws associated with the act.

Senior Peace Officer Sam Burnett says the first is one that most Okotoks homeowners will be familiar with: the outdoor watering schedule.

"From May 1 to October 31, there's outdoor water use restrictions, it's been ongoing for Okotoks for a long period of time. Basically what that means is any odd-numbered address can use water for outdoor water use on Thursdays and Sundays. Even numbers are Wednesdays and Saturdays. It's between the hours of 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. or 7 p.m. and 11 p.m."

Water Exemption Permits can be applied for in cases of new sod or seed being laid, which require more consistent watering.

Burnett stresses the timeframe that the outdoor watering bylaw is in effect, so if a resident really wanted to wash their car outside in November, they'd have the all-clear.

That is, if they kept the second bylaw in mind.

The second bylaw, says Burnett, has to do with the town's storm drainage.

"What is says in the storm drainage bylaw is 'water that may be mixed with biodegradable soap that has been used for washing a vehicle on the approved watering day for that residence can be released into the storm drainage system,' so if you are washing your driveway or wherever else, that water is obviously going to run off into the gutter and into the storm drainage system, so that has to be biodegradable soap."

As for enforcement and fines, Burnett says the minimum fine is $100, though those are typically issued after the offender has already been educated on the bylaw in question.

The maximum fine is $2500.

With that said, Burnett can recall only a couple of complaints about vehicle washing in his eight years in town, and those were about concerns over dirty water being sprayed onto the sidewalk and adjacent driveways.

The bigger concerns about outdoor water usage come when a water ban is in place, which is when peace officers take a more proactive approach, according to Burnett.

Most of the time though, he says officers will work to educate locals rather than handing out fines left and right.

Bearing all of that in mind, Burnett recommends car owners explore their options.

"Realistically, in my experience in this town, we have a tonne of really good and inexpensive car washes. Seems like a really easy way to go about washing your car. There's some fantastic ones here in town."