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Custodians:

Freedom of information requests relating to bake ovens

February 17, 2020

Records Requested*: Please send me an electronic record of (1) the last 5 years of outdoor city of Toronto park outdoor bake-oven use (permits and/or verbal agreements, MOUs), (2) city oven permit fee income during that time period, and (3) the specific agreement in place for each individual oven, if any.


Related correspondence:

Feb.4, 2020, Jutta to Peter White

Being at today's Fairmount bake oven practice session was....interesting. It's pretty clear by now that a discussion needs to happen to clarify the city's approaches, and -- in partnership with people involved in using the ovens now -- to look at what will make bake ovens work well for neighbourhoods. Community ovens are more like community gardens than like hockey permits and that needs to be thought out, seems to me.

When the bake oven policy was first passed in 2011, city council directed PFR to report back to the (then) Parks and Environment Committee after two years on "how the details of the permitting, fees, construction and operations are working" (history here). As far as I know, that report hasn't happened yet. Now is a good chance to take a look.

First step is to figure out current oven use, city fee income, agreements etc. for the existing ten park ovens in our list. Could you put me in touch with a staff person who can tell me that information over the past five or so years?

If that's a question that needs to go through freedom of information, let me know and I can put in the request.

And then I hope you agree that this is a good discussion to begin. I think it's called "cross-sectoral," maybe -- with one of the sectors being neighbourhood oven bakers. Nice and practical. Do you agree?

Feb.12, 2020,from Peter White to Jutta

I apologize for not responding sooner.

Customer service would have fee information on bake ovens. Nellie Raposo DeMers is a Permit Officer who may be able to provide information. Her number is (416)338-2614. I do understand your concerns as we have been trying to work through things with the group at Fairmount. As far as the report is concerned, I do not know where that stands. I have a meeting with Councillor Bradford tomorrow to discuss the bake oven issues.

Feb.12, 2020, from Jutta to bakers

I had an email from Peter White this morning suggesting I could ask Nellie Raposo from permits my question about the past 5 years of oven use city-wide (10 park ovens) and revenue, plus the specific agreement in place for each. Instead of going through FOI.

Feb.12, 2020, from Jutta to Nellie Raposo

I think it makes the most sense for me to just forward you the letter I wrote to Peter on Feb.4., so here it is below. What I would request, through FOI if needed, to start a well-grounded conversation, would be "please send me an electronic record of the last 5 years of outdoor park bake-oven use, city fee income, and the specific agreement in place for each individual oven."

FOI is required to respond to a request within 30 days. This one is pretty straight-forward, so I think FOI would keep within that timeline. If your supervisor could give me an idea this week of how long before you can answer my questions, that would make it clearer which route I should go. Perhaps the information is already at hand, that would be ideal. If it's going to be slower, I'd like to submit my FOI request on the weekend. Also, maybe the two-year follow-up report that the council committee requested in 2011 exists somewhere -- if so, could I see it?

Feb.12, 2020, from Nellie to Jutta

Thank you for your emails. I have forwarded your requests to my management team. You should receive a response shortly.

Feb.17, 2020, Jutta to Nellie

I did not hear back from your manager so I have submitted my request to Freedom of Information. I'm guessing that Parks does not currently have that information all in one place so it will be helpful to your department to be required to assemble it as well. If you do already have it, you could let FOI know and that way we won't be adding to their workload.

As well, I'd like to find out the answer to the other question I asked in my email to you: Also, maybe the two-year follow-up report that the council committee requested in 2011 exists somewhere -- if so, could I see it?

Feb.18, 2020, Nellie to Jutta

My apologies for the delay and that you did not hear back. I have been advised that your request will need to go through as a FOI request.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Feb.18, 2020, Jutta to Nellie

so does that mean that I need to ask for the 2-year follow-up report that the committee of council asked for in 2011, about the outdoor bake oven policy, through MFIPPA as well?

Feb.18, 2020, Nellie to Jutta

This information can be found at the following link: https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2013/pe/bgrd/backgroundfile-61303.pdf

I hope this information helps.

Feb.18, 2020, Jutta to Nellie

Thanks Nellie, yes, that helps.
So it looks like the original request by Council -- at the council meeting of Dec.1, 2011 -- was never carried out: "City Council direct the General Manager, Parks, Forestry and Recreation, in collaboration with the community representatives, local stakeholders and councillors, to report back to the Parks and Environment Committee two years after implementation of the policy on how the details of the permitting, fees, construction and operations are working."
Also, the document you sent contains a March 15, 2013 letter from Councillor Ana Bailao asking for "the number of hours during which each bake oven was actually permitted for use during the last five years."
That report seems not to have been done either -- or did I miss it?

There is however an interesting reference to a publicly available "dashboard" --

City Council direct that the Parks, Forestry and Recreation website contain a regularly updated dashboard consisting of information gathered through park/facility inspections and permit issuance
When I searched online for that dashboard, I couldn't find it. Can you send me the link?

Feb.20, 2020, from Nellie

A Freedom of Information request will be necessary to obtain the additional information that you are requesting.

Request submitted
Feb.26, 2020

From FOI: We are looking into your request and would like to know who you spoke to in PFR that directed you to make this FOI request.

to FOI I'm glad you asked who I spoke to at Permits. Below is a copy of the email thread. It begins with me checking to make sure I understood her right, i.e. that I have to go through FOI for a link referenced in a city council document. But there was no response to that question, so that's why I went ahead and submitted the question to you as instructed.

Feb.27, 2020, from FOI

I have been in consultation with my manager and I can now inform you that you can call back the contact at PFR who originally sent to you FOI.

They will help you get the information that you are requesting.

to Nellie: please see below, the email from FOI.

March 3, 2020, from FOI

I have received a further update on your request and who is best to respond to your inquiry.

Please contact Rob Myatt, Policy & Project Advisor Parks, Forestry & Recreation at 416-338-5638.

Email to Rob Myatt: Edward Scanga of FOI sent me your name and phone number. Rather than calling you, I'm asking you my question by email, since it's a link I'm after.

In this 2013 report, sent to me by Nellie Raposo https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2013/pe/bgrd/backgroundfile-61303.pdf, there is a reference to a publicly available "dashboard" --

City Council direct that the Parks, Forestry and Recreation website contain a regularly updated dashboard consisting of information gathered through park/facility inspections and permit issuance

When I searched online for that dashboard, I couldn't find it. Can you send me the link?

From Rob Myatt: Unfortunately, it appears that dashboard was never developed and placed on the website. That's why it's been impossible to find.

If there's something specific that you're looking for that you hoped the dashboard would have, let me know and we'll see what we can do.

To Rob Myatt: thanks for your quick reply.

I thought that the "dashboard" must be one of those mentioned in descriptions I saw of the capabilities that the city got through their $70 million+ purchase of FPARS. Does PFR have any such dashboards? Can you send me an example?

This dashboard query originated from my asking Permits how many outdoor bake oven permits in parks there have been in the last five years, and what fee income the city took in from them. That's another request I've had to make through FOI. If the 2013 council directive had been carried out, the information would have been available on the dashboard -- am I right? Whereas now, I have the impression that Permits itself doesn't know -- the buck stops nowhere.

My concern, and that of other current or former neighbourhood oven users, is that the fees are shrinking the use of this odd but interesting public resource -- so that there's not much neighbourhood baking in park ovens and not much income either. A lose-lose situation.

If anyone at PFR wants to examine this issue specifically, together with current or former neighbourhood park bakers, that would be timely. Maybe after the FOI request prompts the creation of a little piece of the missing Permits dashboard?

March 4, 2020, from Rob Myatt

I do not have an example of a dashboard I can send you. FPARS is managed by our corporate financial planning team and supports the budget planning process.

A dashboard probably wouldn't have provided the level of detail you're looking for. Typically, dashboards provide a very high level snapshot of information (e.g. how many total permits, how much revenue, how many inspections, etc.)

I understand your FOI regarding Bake Ovens has been passed along to the appropriate staff to compile the information.

Best of luck.

March 4, 2020, to Rob Myatt

thanks for wishing me good luck in your last email :) Here's a Medium article by Henrik Bechmann. "Signs that Toronto's FPARS (financial control) system might be failing."

Excerpt:

There is no sign of use of promised dashboards.- There is some anecdotal evidence that FPARS is little more than a repository for spreadsheet data....
[Questions that need to be asked]:

How many division/agency dashboards are fully implemented and actively used?

How close is the FPARS data warehouse to automatically collecting, on a comprehensive, granular, regular basis, accounting, budget, staffing, and performance data?

Good luck to you too


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Content last modified on March 04, 2020, at 05:11 PM EST