The aging members of the Glen Echo Family Nudist Park might prefer the al fresco life, but they’re glad the emperor – or in this case, Ontario’s Landlord and Tenant Board – has clothes.
A board adjudicator, after all, ruled in the nudists’ favour on Monday, after they argued that a sudden eviction from their mobile homes and cabins would be unfair. They claimed they were de facto lessees, not mere seasonal users, and as such deserved far more notice than what they got from the park’s elderly owners, who sold the 100-acre park over the summer.
Now it will be up to the new owner, rumoured to be planning a religious community for the site, to see that the nudists are given at least a year to vacate once their current leases run out.
That is, if the impending Oct. 1 sale doesn’t now fall through.
“It’s just amazing,” said Laurent Leduc, the balding, bearded, retired academic who led the nudists through the day-long hearing in North York. “I’m very happy, very pleased about the decision. It could have gone either way.”
Indeed, the affable Mr. Leduc was up against an actual lawyer, Jack Rosati, who was able to rattle off far more legal arguments than the nudists.
The central question before adjudicator Sylvia Watson was whether the nudists’ makeshift cabins and year-to-year site rentals constituted a land lease arrangement – which would entitle them to protection under the Residential Tenancies Act – or merely a seasonal, transitory camping-type of transaction.
Mr. Rosati argued the latter was true, since the nudists generally used the spartan, mostly unwinterized dwellings as weekend or summer getaways. And besides, he said, the exclusivity of the nudists’ club violates human rights provisions that forbid landlords from discriminating against tenants.
Ms. Watson, however, dismissed these claims. She heard from several nudists, including some with tenancies of more than 30 years, during which they erected permanent buildings on their sites with the full blessing of the landlords, Edward and Mary Todorowsky, a nudist couple who founded the camp in 1954. Some said they used the sites year-round and listed them as primary addresses.
Wearing telltale summer tans that peeked out from autumn clothes, 10 of the camp’s estimated 100 residents attended the hearing, which ran more than eight hours in a sterile, windowless and anything-but-natural room on the seventh floor of an office building.
Mr. Leduc spoke first, calling the camp his “Henry-David-Thoreau kind of Walden Pond” since he took up his site in 1988.
Robert and Roberta (Bob and Bobbie) Kennery, meanwhile, have enjoyed the calm breezes of Glen Echo for 30 years, and now count it their sole Canadian home, since they winter in the southern United States. “We even vote in the town” of Schomberg, near the camp, Mr. Kennery said.
“It is apparent to me from all the evidence that these homes are intended to be permanent, that they’re intended to be occupied,” Ms. Watson said when giving her ruling. Whoever winds up as owner of the park after Oct. 1 “now has an obligation to give notice” of one year, in keeping with the law as it deals with land leases, she said.
In other words, a new owner could still force the nudists out, meaning the Glen Echo residents “may have won the battle today, but the war is over,” as Mr. Rosati put it.
Original article at Globe & Mail