Food in public space
( display item 1)
Setup: 10-Sep-2011 
Using Bake Ovens
Using outdoor bake ovens is a great way to combine food, cooking, history, the outdoors, socializing, and fun and education for kids.
To use the bake ovens in the city, though, you'll have to be persistent. Not a Parks, Forestry, and Recreation (PFR) priority, apparently.
First, find an outdoor bake oven on our MAP: Bake Ovens page. Then get a permit.
See our User Guide: Bake Ovens page.
You can also review our Picture Albums: Bake Ovens.
And there's a dedicated website, also run by CELOS (the operator of publiccommons.ca): publicbakeovens.ca.
Understanding Bake Ovens
If you review the Regulatory View: Bake Ovens topic, and the Community Notebooks: Bake Ovens topic, you'll see that PFR is places substantial fees, and insurance on the use of bake ovens, insisting on the presence of staff, and insisting that all PFR costs be covered. This acts as something of a barrier to community use of these assets.
But ask yourself: do you want to promote food awareness as a community endeavour? If so, we encourage you to proceed, and help to promote the merits of these community projects to PFR.
In fact, convincing PFR to support greater bake oven usage would be a great way for PFR to accumulate valuable skills within its staff group.
In November 2011, the city approved a new staff bake oven policy, five years in the making, intended to reopen the possibility of building new public bake ovens (which had been halted since 2003). Public input was very limited as the policy was being developed internally. The CELOS video of interviews with bake-oven users, referenced in our one-year grant report, did not influence the policy as passed by City Council. No new bake ovens have been built since then, with the exception of one at Edithvale Community Centre, at the insistence of their city councillor. In the summer of 2012 some bakers from CELOS ran a training session for the Edithvale recreation staff and interested neighbours there. However, the design of the oven is unusual in that the oven opening is located so high up – apparently for safety motives – that shorter adults can’t bake there. The design may compromise oven use. No other new ovens have been built. In the year since the new policy was passed, existing public ovens been used twice a year or less, with the exception of Dufferin Grove (grandfathered and therefore not subject to the policy, at least up to now). Since the Thorncliffe Park tandoor oven is committed but still not a reality, CELOS continued to make our smaller, portable tandoor available to “sign out.” It’s located at RV Burgess Park for the moment. Our group wants to do three oven-related slide/video shows available for presentations: (1) a one-year follow up of the effects of the new oven policy, (2) a slide show for meetings, about the TCHC ovens for which CELOS helped with baker/food handling training, and (3) a slide show illustrating how the Dufferin ovens have contributed to enlivening the park since 1995. All three topics have documentation posted on publiccommons.ca.