“Any fool can make a law. Every fool will keep it.”—Henry David Thoreau.
Reg Hartt: Remembering John Hurt https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Hurt
John Hurt was more than a great actor. He was a great human being. While many may prefer his roles in more conventional films it was his portrayal of Quentin Crisp in THE NAKED CIVIL SERVANT that first drew him to my attention. In fact, the broadcast of that film in 1975 made both John Hurt and Quentin Crisp into international stars. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quentin_Crisp
Mulling over the lives of both these men as well as the remarkable courage displayed by Crisp in flaunting himself before unjust laws and John Hurt in the roles he chose I found that I could not look at myself with respect in my mirror unless, in defiance of City of Toronto Inspectors, I displayed that same courage.
It is illegal in Toronto to welcome strangers into our homes. In his letter to my landlord City Of Toronto Inspector Elliott de Barros writes, “Your tenants stated position that “anyone who shows up on my doorstep is considered a friend”, and thus, he should not be considered to be open to the public, seems at best disingenuous. Additionally, his acknowledgement that The Cineforum is a destination listed in travel guides as a ‘must see’ for visitors to Toronto also suggests that this is other than a regular gathering of friends and colleagues.”
The travel guide in question is THE LONELY PLANET, the number one travel guide on the planet. My program is placed at the top of its list of places to see in Ontario and in Toronto. https://www.lonelyplanet.com/canada/toronto/entertainment/a/poi-ent/361412
Wrote Lawrence Solomon in THE NATIONAL POST, “Reg Hartt has been a credit to Toronto for decades.”
Nor is he alone in praising my work.
This city, Toronto, has a long history of trampling what is unique about it.
“It seems to me that the official spirit of Toronto is stamp out fun.”—Jane Jacobs.
There doesn’t seem to be much creativity at the top. It seems to me that Toronto has a split personality, a civic schizophrenia. On one level there is the spirit of individuals and small groups who do things…what you might call the vernacular spirit. This is all very informal, ingenious, quite romantic and full of fun, a great deal of fun. It seems to me that the official spirit of Toronto is stamp out fun. It’s pompous, impressed with mediocrity if its very, very big and expensive,”–Jane Jacobs https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUO20–hXw8 .
Jane Jacobs was my friend. “My mother loved you,” her son James as repeatedly told me. We might think that having the love of Jane would impress our city councilors, our mayor, our politicians. If that is the case their silence proves that thought wrong. Jane loathed those who choose silence in the face of oppression. People have often said to me, “If only you would not speak we would come to your programs.” Over a few beers in her home Jane Jacobs said to me, “The best part of what you offer is what you have to say.”
That is one helluva compliment.
Jane stood up to unjust laws. Can any law be more unjust in a city than a law against welcoming strangers?
Welcome to my home. Don’t be a stranger.–Reg Hartt, 01/29/2017.
7pm: THE NAKED CIVIL SERVANT
9pm: AN ENGLISHMAN IN NEW YORK
Monday thru Thursday
January 30, 31, February 1, 2; 6, 7, 8, 9; 13, 14, 15, 16.
The Cineforum, 463 Bathurst below College Across From The Beer Store. 416-603-6643. B.Y.O.F.D.
Admission restricted to friends of Reg Hartt.
Note: THE CINEFORUM is located in my home. It is illegal in Toronto to invite strangers into our home. The question of whether this use has a commercial aspect is not at issue. Don’t be a stranger. Read the letter from City Of Toronto Inspector Elliott de Barros to my landlord’s agent at the bottom of this post for complete details.–Reg Hartt.
From: Elliott de Barros <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: 25 October 2016 15:47
Cc: Scott Sullivan; Joy Correia
Subject: 463 Bathurst St. (Zoning Notice)
As a result of my meeting with staff from the city’s Legal and Prosecutions Depts. along with my management, I have been instructed to pursue this matter. Additionally, since the time of my last communication, Zoning By-law 569-2013 has now come into effect after having withstood a challenge before the Ontario Municipal Board and requires that I issue a fresh Zoning Notice (see attached) in relation to the property usage. Additional hard copies of this fresh Notice are being mailed out to you and your tenant. I will attempt to answer the questions posed in your message sent July 11/16 below and sincerely apologize for the delay in doing so.
Firstly please understand that I am not attempting to suggest that your tenant is operating a full-time gallery or cinema, but rather, that in addition to the residential use there is also an additional use as a Public Art Gallery/Entertainment Place of Assembly taking place on a scheduled basis. If you are not already aware of its existence I would suggest you visit your tenants web site (reghartt.ca) in order to get an idea of the frequency of this additional use. You are correct in your presumption that my Dept. is obligated to investigate all complaints received, and in this instance, do not deem the property use issue to be frivolous.
The term “Salon” is not defined within the former or new Zoning By-laws, however, I believe the definitions you included in your communication speak of gatherings convened by invitation and not through advertising on an open website nor through publicly posted print ads. Your tenants stated position that “anyone who shows up on my doorstep is considered a friend”, and thus, he should not be considered to be open to the public, seems at best disingenuous. Additionally, his acknowledgement that The Cineforum is a destination listed in travel guides as a “must see” for visitors to Toronto also suggests that this is other than a regular gathering of friends and colleagues.
As I have communicated to your tenant, the use of the property, or a portion thereof, as any of the following would all require a zoning review under both the former and current Zoning By-laws:
– Place of Assembly
– Public Museum
– Charitable Institution
– Private Academic, Philanthropic or Religious School
– Public Art Gallery
– Tourist Home
– Performing Arts Studio
– Education Use
– Religious Education Use
Your tenant was requested in early June to submit an application to the city for a ‘Preliminary Project Review’ to determine whether the additional use could be classified as “legal non-conforming” and thus not be required to obtain a minor zoning variance, and declined to do so.
The question of whether this use has a commercial aspect is not at issue. As your tenant has been advised, this is a land use issue and I would suggest as a landlord you have an obligation to ensure the property is being used in a lawful manner. I do not believe your concern regarding interfering with the tenancy is justified given the issuance of the Zoning notice, which is not a ‘maintenance standards work order’, as defined in sec. 225 of the Residential Tenancies Act, but rather a ‘Zoning Notice which requires compliance “forthwith” and carries no process of appeal. Should you find yourself in the unfortunate position of having to issue me a subpoena to attend at any proceeding you may wish to bring against your tenant, I would be legally obligated to attend.
In summary, while I would be happy to work with your tenant and yourself to ensure that this additional use is formally legalized I cannot force anyone through that process. Should you and/or your tenant choose to reconsider submitting the required application please let me know so that further enforcement action can be suspended.
Municipal Standards Officer
Toronto & East York District
433 Eastern Ave., Building B, 2nd Flr.
Toronto, Ont. M4M 1B7