Parks are for people: Letter to the City of Toronto in support of Dufferin Grove Park’s bake ovens
Acting Manager Policy Development
Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation
September 6, 2022
Dear Ms. Murphy,
I’m writing in concern about City initiatives to impose fees and other constraints on community facilities in our public parks, particularly the bake oven facilities.
Twenty-two years ago, Maytree provided funding to friends of Dufferin Grove Park for a second outdoor bake oven, half the size of the first, as a way to help with wood conservation and alternate between large and smaller food-related gatherings. The two outdoor bake ovens were initiatives by neighbours of the park, aimed at making the park a focal point for the community. It was these resident-led initiatives that made the difference. And further enhancements made it better.
The Dufferin Grove example was replicated in many places across the city, led by local residents.
While the City has had legitimate concerns about risk and safety, its efforts to regulate and restrict such initiatives have not been constructive. Stifling neighbourhood engagement and initiative has been unwise.
At the local level, a community/staff culture has often been productive at both management of facilities and problem solving. But often top-down structures have been a backwards step in terms of community use and enjoyment of their neighbourhood parks. The current efforts to regulate and apply fees for use of ovens and other amenities is such a case and should be rescinded.
The challenge to the City is to manage the real issues of risk and safety without stifling neighbour engagement and initiative, and to instruct their legal department to find the way forward to keep neighbours engaged and active in the parks.
Parks are for people, and the people who use the parks have a lot of knowledge and energy to make them better. Neighbours can make parks work in a way that the City can’t. Finding the way to make their ideas work is imperative.
John Tory, Mayor of Toronto
Tracey Cook, Interim City Manager
Janie Romoff, General Manager, Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation
Denise Andrea Campbell, Executive Director, Social Development, Finance & Administration
Ana Bailao, Councilor Ward 9
Gord Perks, Councilor Ward 4
Joe Mihevic, Councilor Ward 10