Public Bakeovens



Cooking with Fire in Public Parks


Christie Pits Park Oven Correspondence

Nov.11, 2015, from Alex Chernov, master oven builder:

Building code does not cover any ovens.

We use fireplace section of the code for indoor ovens, but outdoor ovens should not be subject to the code as long as they are more than 10ft from any building.

Sounds like someone has personal interest in buying prefabs...or it may be simply because they want a certified unit and assuming it would lower their liability. That being said, there is none among outdoor oven kits on the market that is ULC-listed. Very few larger commercial ones made as one piece are.

Nov.13, 2015, letter to City Councillor Mike Layton, from Jutta Mason:

Dear Councillor Layton,

I see that the Christie bake oven has been removed and plopped down near the basketball court, and I heard that it is scheduled to be destroyed and replaced by a prefab.

The Christie oven was built in 2000 with money we raised including funds from the Maytree Foundation. It has at least 20 more years of good use in it. It is far superior to the small prefab ovens the city has been installing in parks more recently.

Please put a hold on the destruction of this excellent oven, which we paid for, until we work out a plan of how the oven can be returned to us if it is not welcome at Christie Pits.

I will call your office later today to see what your plans are.

Nov.13, 2015

Called the office but there was no one to talk to.

Nov.16 2015, email from Councillor Layton

The original oven from 2000 unfortunately was destroyed in a fire (at least this is my understanding) and rebuilt. The oven to be installed was done in consultation with active users of the bake oven and built to City specifications.

I will have Marco speak with our project co-ordinator, but I am doubtful that we will be able to release the park amenity outright. We'll be in touch soon with more info.

Nov.16 2015, to Councillor Layton

the original oven is the one currently in the park. Some years ago there was a small fire in the roof, set by vandals, after a huge park event (not involving the oven). The roof had to be rebuilt, but other than that, such ovens can't really be burned down. Since we paid for the oven, it is not okay for the city to damage it in any way.

I hope you can find out the plans from the project manager in the next few days, so we can let people know. They should know that the city wants to destroy an excellent community oven that would cost at least $15,000 to build. Hard to know who is interested, including the media, but we might as well find out. I have been in touch with the Maytree Foundation and they are not happy about this news.

Nov.16 2015, from Councillor Layton's executive assistant, Marco Bianchi

Thanks for checking in about the bake oven. The original plan was to remove the oven and possibly relocate it to another park, but this plan has since changed.

The oven will remain in the park alongside the newer oven. Although it is not to City specifications, we do not see any need to have it demolished as it has been working well since 2000 (minus the incident with the roof). For now, it has been moved to another portion of the park while work continues to improve the area around the oven(s).

Nov.16 2015, to Marco Bianchi

How nice to hear that the oven will not be destroyed. It sounds like cooler heads have prevailed, even though it didn't sound like that when Councillor Layton sent me his discouraging email earlier today.

There are a number of other community groups which have now become aware of this situation and would have been very willing to step up and take the oven. Some are copied here. But of course it would be strange if such an excellent oven were to be removed from Christie Pits Park just to replace it with a much inferior one like those small prefabs that the city has been installing elsewhere.

As for your novel suggestion that the two ovens would be put side by side: I heard that there is currently not enough money in the Christie Pits Park reno budget to even add a covered prep area to the oven site. Perhaps the money allocated for the second oven could be put into a good prep area instead -- which I heard was a request made at a community meeting.

This oven-destruction saga was a close call, and it may not be over yet. Please let me know the name(s) of the person(s) who set the City specifications for public bake ovens. We need to find out who they are and connect them to some actual public-oven builders and bakers. So far, s/he/they, from city staff, seem to have spoken to no local bakers or public-oven builders, that I am aware of. I hope you agree with me: that makes no sense.

Looking forward to hearing back from you.

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Content last modified on November 17, 2015, at 01:16 PM EST