Public Bakeovens



Cooking with Fire in Public Parks


Regulatory Challenges

Most people are thrilled to discover a bake oven in a city park -- perhaps glowing with a well-stoked fire, perhaps loaded with fragrant bread. They find the fire beautiful, the food delicious, and the chance to meet their neighbours a treat. However, as the documents linked below indicate, people who want to use existing ovens, and people who wish to build permanent or temporary ovens, have faced an increasing number of regulatory obstacles.

Regulations (ongoing, being added to)
March 2016, Dufferin Grove Park

New rule: when there's a fire in the ovens, they have to be blocked off.

Reason: so that no one can jump inside.

Effect: On a bread baking day, the bakers have to tend each oven around 10 to 15 times per oven and per firing. That amounts to 20 to 30 times per oven per firing for the two ovens. That adds up to 40 to 60 times of the bakers moving the barricades on Wednesday and 40 to 60 times on Thursday. In addition to that they have to set it up - moving 2 heavy barricades to position them in front of each oven, and afterwards to put them away again.

Bakeoven Policy

August 2011:

Proposed City of Toronto Bake Oven policy: staff report

September 2011:

Response of bake oven users to the staff report: here

Commentary from Dufferin Grove baker Anna Bekerman:

The proposed bake oven policy does not adequately reflect the range of requirements that would foster community use.

Bake ovens can be used for private events like birthday parties, but they need some expertise (more than a BBQ). More commonly, bake ovens are used for a long list of open-to-everyone, community-based events (make-your-own pizza days, community suppers, potlucks, food preserving workshops, community baking, City councillors' community picnics, etc).

The success of community initiatives depends on:

- a) Collaboration with PFR staff. The amount of involvement from PFR staff would vary depending on the needs of any given community, from simply helping access water, kitchen space and bathrooms, to providing oven scheduling assistance, to providing staff. There needs to be clear language in the policy that supports collaboration.

- b) No fees for open-access community events, small as well as large. Open-access community-based initiatives are exempt from user fees in the proposed user fee policy here. If this exemption is ignored, fees will discourage involvement by smaller groups and individuals who are donating their time to provide a service to their communities.

- c) Coverage from the city's insurance. As open-access community-based park activities, these events should be covered by the city's volunteer insurance.


September 2011: This e-mail was sent to each member of the parks committee:

Friday Night Supper

Click to enlarge.

School Visit

Dear Councillor,

Now that last week's bake oven item at Parks and Environment has been deferred (thank you!) until your next committee meeting, could a couple of us come and see you with a little 15-minute presentation one day next week? We'd like to show you some pictures and a 7-minute video of bake oven users' commentary.

We'd also like to show you our alternative way of gaining revenue for the City through City-supported community use of bake ovens. At Dufferin Grove Park, during the last three months, bake ovens helped bring in over $35,000 ("everyone-welcome" pizza days, farmers' market bread baking, Friday night community suppers). All of this revenue was put back into the park programs: CELOS Financial records. We want to make sure that the City's bake oven policy explicitly enables such community uses, not mainly private birthday parties.

May we come and see you some time in the week of Sept.26 at a time that suits you? (I'll follow up this e-mail with a phone call to your staff.)

Jutta Mason
Public Bakeovens/guests



Earlier bake oven issues and correspondence

The city's 2009 draft bake oven policy: Draft policy

Email Correspondence regarding bake oven policy and oven issues (April, 2010):

Oven questions and responses

Correspondence: trying to get a bake oven conversation

Food event correspondence

An excerpt from the March 2010 Dufferin Park newsletter on bake ovens and policy: CITY POLICIES AND COMMUNITY BAKE-OVENS

Toronto Star articles about bake oven policy:
Issues faced by Oven Users and Would-be Oven Users

See the "Correspondence" link above for some details about Riverdale Park, Alexandra Park and the proposed Stonegate oven in Bell Manor Park.

A letter outlining the issues with the Alexandra Park oven.

A chronology record of email correspondence related to the Stonegate Community Health Centre's proposal to build a bake oven in Bell Manor Park.

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Content last modified on March 19, 2016, at 09:17 AM EST