I am disappointed to see that City staff cannot tell the difference between a private event (which should require a permit) and an independently-created public event (which in this case should not). As Jutta Mason has outlined in exhaustive detail, the Parks department still considers such unique, community-driven public events and activities to be “anomalous,” and as such must be brought under City authority or eliminated.
One solution, I believe, is to grant greater authority to local park supervisors to form relationships with the community and “friends” groups, and to empower them to be flexible when community members propose unique, neighbourhood-scale programming like the Christie Pits public campfires. Instead, the Parks department seems to be going in the opposite direction, insisting on inflexible city-wide standards and processes, while treating park supervisors like interchangeable parts, accountable to a policy manual and not the local community.
The worst thing is that this happens even after councillors such as Councillor Layton, Councillor Bailão, and others before them, have repeatedly and emphatically committed to a parks policy that is flexible enough to allow this sort of unique programming. Councillors have hosted community meetings with Parks managers, who then pledge there will be more community engagement and flexibility, and all seems fine. And then, just a few months later, we inevitably learn that a public campfire or some other unique event is in jeopardy, and it starts all over again. Despite the pledges and policies, the bureaucratic culture of the Parks department seems incapable of following the plain directions of councillors and the community.