Petite Patrie community rallies around octogenarian being evicted
Published Thursday, March 3, 2016 6:45PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, March 3, 2016 7:35PM EST
Pierino Di Tonno is an internationally recognized photographer who has lived in his St. Laurent Blvd. apartment for nearly 40 years, but the building’s owners want him out.
His small apartment in La Petite Patrie is more like an art gallery, showcasing just some of his life's work – photos of Ingmar Bergman, Costa Grava, Clint Eastwood, Sergio Leone and Ennio Morricone are plastered on the walls like makeshift wallpaper. He’s worked on famous film sets and at Montreal’s film festival as recently as 2014.
The 82-year-old has lived on St. Laurent for about 37 years, but recent health problems landed him in hospital for three months. When he was well enough to return home, he was greeted by an eviction notice. Neighbourhood housing activists are helping Di Tonno contest the eviction with Quebec’s rental board.
“In the eviction notice they say they want to subdivide the apartment which means they want to make two apartments in this quite small apartment, so it's a bit sketchy, said Martin Blanchard of the La Petite Patrie housing committee.
“People that are vulnerable are more victims than other kind of people because it's easy to kick them out so it matters to us to come and help them.”
The building in question is owned by a trust comprised of numerous parties and is governed by a board of directors. The member of the trust listed on the Regie de logement paperwork Di Tonno filed is from the same family that owns the Milano food store below.
CTV reached Cecelia Zaurrini by phone. She said that lawyers have advised members of the trust not to comment. But the housing committee isn’t staying silent – they plan to picket outside Milano’s on Saturday.
Di Tonno said he can't imagine having to move boxes of negatives and pictures and that is grateful for the support.
“It's a long time I stay here. To change, for me, it's tragedy,” he said.
His case goes before the rental board March 8.