See also Site Map
Description: Parks Supervisor withdraws support for cooking and warming fires at the park, pending review and resolution of permitting issues. 13 year fire programming is given "Pilot" status. Status: Open
Thank you for your email. I would like to clarify some issues for you regarding the Fire Permits at Dufferin Grove Park. I am not trying to stop Cooking Fires or Warming Fires at Dufferin Grove. The bylaws as they apply to Parks require that any open fire requires a permit. In 2006 no permit was requested for fires at Dufferin Grove therefore no permit was issued. This also meant that there was no liability insurance in place.
Safety and safe use of the Park are concerns of mine as they are for all Park users. In the event of an incident or injury I would be required to demonstrate that I have followed all of the required procedures to hold an event in a Park. I am obliged by law follow the bylaws and policies and procedures that the City uses.
I am currently working with Park staff to put in place a protocol that meets the needs and desires of the local community and fits within the process of the City. I have had a number of meetings with Recreation staff, Fire Department staff, Permitting staff and Parks staff to resolve this issue.
I have also approved a Pilot at Dufferin Grove Park to allow Cooking Fires and to test the protocol that has been formed to date.
Here's an update: The Feb.20 Parks committee deputation/ rink party can't happen. It turns out that no Parks matters are on the agenda for this meeting, because the councillors are taking a day to listen to the experts talking about global warming. So we have to wait at least another month.
However, all those letters have definitely helped to focus attention on the campfire ban. Councillor Giambrone has put pressure on City management staff to get the permits going again. In fact, it sounds as though the Dufferin Grove fires may be reconstituted almost exactly as before. There is a meeting as I write, still without park user participation, but with some Dufferin Rink staff at the table.
To get the campfires back, so far there have been 68 e-mail exchanges, plus about another 20 staff-only e-mails, plus 26+ protest letters (not everyone cc'd me so I'm not sure of the numbers), plus maybe a dozen staff meetings. It's now 22 days later, and the Councillor's office is hopeful that Dufferin Grove campfire program will be re-instated this weekend.
Only now the campfires will be tracked by Permits, i.e. be "in the system." Plus Parks Supervisor Peter Leiss may give the staff a half-barrel to contain the rink-side campfire. Other than that, the safety protocol is pretty well back to the safety rules we've worked out over the past 13 years. But what a lot of everybody's time such a bureaucratic explosion takes!
The other sites are still contentious (Wallace Family Sundays cooking fires, Campbell Rink Friday night youth cooking fires, MacGregor Park art-events campfires, and Susan Tibaldi take-back-the-park cooking fire events). Mr.Leiss had safety concerns about Susan Tibaldi Park being on top of the subway line and about Campbell Rink having potentially explosive ammonia in the rink pipes near the youth program campfire site.
However, the chair of the TTC said he does not feel that a campfire at Susan Tibaldi Park will interfere with subway operations. And we were able to let Mr.Leiss know that Campbell Rink was rebuilt in 1997 and does not have ammonia in the pipes (plus ammonia in the open air is not explosive).
Hopefully those campfire programs will also return soon.
As to the question of why all this energy against the campfire program, I'll try to give some background on the web campfire site, when the immediate crisis is over. It's good to learn from these things. Plus CELOS (our little research group) will put together a little campfire booklet, giving the rules, the how-to of low-smoke fires, excerpts from some of your wonderful "why we love campfires" letters to the Councillor, and some good cooking fire recipes. If any of you on this list would like to contribute stories, helpful hints, etc. to this booklet, we'd love it. Just e-mail me.
Can you get me the background on this issue.. bullet point with a suggestion on how this can be resolved. Please highlight specifically who is responsible for the overall program or each of the measures required to operate the program.
I'm writing because of Peter Leiss' concern that there may be an ammonia leak at Campbell Rink. As you know, I helped to start the Friday night cooking fires that recreation staff do with youth at Campbell Rink, and if there is leaking ammonia, possibly forcing people to leave the rink area because of the fumes, I'd like to know that. I'm sure that it's a concern for City staff as well.
Campbell Rink was rebuilt less than ten years ago, if memory serves me, but last week Peter told Dufferin Rink staff that when his men go into the compressor room, their eyes tear up.
I understand from the TSSA that ammonia is not labelled as flammable, so there may be no danger of an explosion from subtle leakage, but still it ought to be looked into. Is there a leak at Campbell Rink that needs to be addressed?
Parks would like to clarify a number items. Rumour and innuendo serve no purpose other than to inflame a sensitive issue. No pun intended.
Parks did not ban fires in Parks. In fact it was Recreation that banned fires. Parks requested that these fires follow the proscribed process including permitting, Fire department approval and Parks approval. There was no permit for 2006. There was no approval of sites with the Fire Department. This resulted in no indemnification for the City in the event of any incident or injury.
In an effort to assist Recreation in providing a valued service for residents Parks set up a number of meetings with Forestry, Recreation, Fire and Permitting to set up an internal process or protocol. Parks also set up a number of site visits with Forestry Staff, Recreation Staff and Fire staff to approve a number of sites in various Parks to hold fires.
Parks has utilized the existing process to assist in forming the Protocol and as such the residents using fires in Parks should see little or no difference.
Parks always welcomes input from the public. Parks, will upon an agreement being reached, with Forestry, Recreation, Permitting and Fire provide the protocol to the Public for input.
The pilot was put in place as a mechanism to allow fires at Dufferin Grove while the protocol was being discussed. As the protocol is not complete at this point the Pilot has been expanded to include 2 other Parks to allow other events to take place.
There will be a discussion of this issue at the upcoming Managers meeting.
Recreation did it? That's a surprise. For the record, here is the e-mail thread on the dufferinpark.ca "problems and follow-up" web page (of course it only has the e-mails I was privy to).
I think it's pretty clear that the campfire crisis did not originate with Recreation, in fact Councillor Giambrone told me that Recreation Director Don Boyle dissociated himself from it right at the outset.
The silver lining to the cloud: the campfire letters sent in by all sorts of people. They are so interesting and descriptive that they're the basis of a little campfire-in-parks handbook I'm hoping to have ready for distribution in a few days. (I'll send one to everyone on this list.) Little tempests like the campfire cancellation are very wearing for those of us who started them, but letters like these really soothe the pain.
And here is a nice picture from this past weekend at Dufferin Rink, thanks to the "pilot project" (!)
Here is the pdf version of the little campfire handbook that's being delivered to all the cc's on yesterday's e-mail list today. I'll put your hard copy into inter-departmental mail. Page 14 is rather interesting.
Thanks Jutta this is very helpful as has been the great input from Mayssann and team. We want to capture the solid work that is in place as we build the city protocol. Your work has been utilized and is most appreciated.
Once it is all put together staff will be happy to share. We needed to ensure the internal protocols did not create a situation where the fires could not continue.
Thanks Sandy, I look forward to seeing your draft protocol so that I can send it out for community comments and feedback. The hard-copy campfire handbook had gone out to a few offices but we're holding onto most of the copies so that we can include the draft protocol in it as well. I hope to see it on Wednesday after your Parks meeting.
It will be good to broaden the conversation, at last.
Today is exactly four weeks since all the park cooking fire/ campfire permits were cancelled. Recently, you have allowed interim/temporary/"pilot" permits in several locations. However, the new campfire rules you propose have not been made public. According to Chris Gallop, Sandy Straw set last Friday as the date when your new protocol would finally be available to those of us who started the campfire program (and who help to continue it), to comment on.
But there has been nothing except reports of another internal (Parks only) meeting this past Wednesday.
The campfire handbook that we put together (i.e. the pdf that I sent you) is waiting on your proposed new protocol. We sent an incomplete version of the handbook out to the Mayor's office and to several councillors, but the people whose letters are included in the handbook are waiting for their copies -- so they can comment on your proposals.
Can you let me know when we can get that information? It would be good to resume collaborating.
Please be advised that there will be a barrel fire at Campbell park today from 6-11 pm in the same site as the fire held last Friday, Feb 16.
Please be advised that today there will be a cooking fire program (birthday party) at the approved fire pit near the ice rink at Dufferin Grove Park from 3 to 5 pm.
The location that you indicated is not the agreed location. I was at the Park on Friday on another matter and noticed the remains of a fire immediately adjacent to the header trench. This is not an appropiate location and is not the location we agreed together that could be used. The event that the fire was used for has been planned for sometime. There is no reason to schedule this at the last minute.
We had also agreed that you and or your staff would notify Parks and Parks Bylaw of fire events in advance. As this event the Shinny Tournament was scheduled weeks in advance there was no reason that this event could not have been booked in the appropriate manner.
This is not how this is supposed to work. The notification is to come in advance of the event and the event is to booked in class. This email was sent after the event had already begun.
The fire location at Campbell was 3 meters from the edge of the rink and any playground structures. As approved and agreed at Coronation Park with Peter Feb 16th. It is not the site that was approved on site with Parks and Fire the week before (that location on the basket ball court was deemed unsafe by Recreation). The Campbell fire yesterday was contained in a barrel. Any sign of an open fire is historical - from January.
The fire location was not the alternate location that we agreed to. The Fire location that we agreed to on site is 3 meters west of the rink and 3 meters north of the playground. There was absolutely no confusion as to the location for the fire. At this point given that you and your staff are not clear as to the location I am not inclined to give approval for any additional fires at Campbell.
The agreement was that in the case of spontaneous fires, an email would suffice as long as it is within the specific dates and times of the Course. You are aware that there is no access to Class or City computer from Dufferin Rink. Additionally, the community connection here is not always reliable and, as in the case below, sometimes can take up to 10 minutes to connect.
Again, we will continue to try and follow the procedure as has been discussed up to this point. It might be a good idea to meet again soon so we can share feed-back on what has worked and what difficulties there are.
I find the tone of Peter Leiss' e-mail quite shocking. It's as though the rec staff were trying to get away with something stupid. In actual fact, the staff were doing all that extra work to make the Campbell 2nd Annual Youth Shinny Tournament the wonderful success that it was. I guess Peter came there with a camera during the tourney (but not speaking to any staff). Astonishing.
Their campfire was totally safe and competent. The idea here is to MAKE THINGS WORK for youth. How can we encourage Parks to get back on that project?
There are a number of issues. One is that inspite of knowledge of an event well in advance Recreation has failed to request the appropiate permit. The second is that events such as birthdays are hardly spontaneous. Sending emails after the event starts or after normal working hours is not appropiate notice for Parks or Parks Bylaw.
There will have to be an additional meeting to work through these and other issues.
With regards to the spontaneity of events such as birthdays, it would be appropriate for us to involve the group that was having the party so they can explain it from their end. Jutta - I believe you know these people - could you see if you can dig up the phone number of those present?
Another amazing e-mail from Parks supervisor Peter Leiss.
This was a party for a kid whose mother was one of the group of three who got the sand pit into the park, back in 1993. She has been having a rink birthday party for her son each year for six years now. There was always a campfire, which they always shared with all rink users. This year the mother heard the campfires were cancelled, so they didn't make any arrangements ahead. When they got there, the group were thrilled to hear that temporary permission has been restored. So the staff sent an e-mail and lit the campfire. Everyone was happy, including the other rink users who joined in.
Except for Peter Leiss, he's not happy. The rink staff do their best to make the park a great place for families, people come from all over the city, and the Park supervisor shakes his finger and uses words like "failed to request the appropriate permit." I thought this is NOT a permit but a recreation program?
This is a dreadful situation. Please, let's have a campfire site meeting, with Councillor Giambrone, the Parks director, the Recreation director, the general manager if necessary, to change the orientation from fault-finding to MAKING THINGS WORK!
It seems to me that the confusion over the location at Campbell Rink is legitimate, based on the verbal descriptions below.
If I were to describe the location that we all agreed to at the Feb. 16th meeting, I would describe it as three meters north of the rink and three meters east of the playground, also known as the north-west corner of the rink. This is quite different from your description of "3 meters west of the rink and 3 meters north of the playground." Mayssan describes the same spot as "3 meters from the corner of the rink and 3 meters north of the playground." If the three of us can legitimately describe the same location in three different ways, I don't think it's a stretch to think that other staff who were not at that meeting with us might get confused.
There also appears to be some confusion about whether the remains of the fire you found pre-dates the new rules and the new barrel fires we are now working with.
Regardless, Jutta is right that the whole point of this is to find ways to create successful events for the community. It would be helpful if all staff could adopt a more collaborative attitude, rather than an adversarial one, since it is essential that both Parks and Rec staff are able to work together to program successful events. This includes extending staff the benefit of the doubt when the occasional mistake is made. We are all on the same team.
Perhaps it would help clear this up if you could join the Rec staff at Campbell on Sunday while they are setting up to make sure they are using the approved location? Or schedule a site meeting in advance of Sunday if you prefer.
Please let me know as soon as possible what actions are being taken to sort this out and to make sure the event on Sunday can go ahead with all the proper approvals in place, in terms of both CLASS and the location.
I also understand that another meeting is being set up to discuss the big picture policy issues and the overall procedures. My schedule is quite flexible and I would be happy to attend. Please let me know when and where.
A visit to Campbell proved that the location proposed by Parks is too far. So Recreation would like to decline having a campfire at the location Peter refers to at the bottom of the email. "use the area that we agreed to use when we visited the site after our initial meeting." The site visit was deemed to be by the basket ball. This was identified as a health and safety hazard for staff in a recreation driven program. (the gates would have to be left open during a shinny game). The other possible location is by the wading pool and is simply too far from our point of view, and with respect to community input.
Mayssan tells me that Peter's current fire protocol version is not acceptable to Recreation. I would like to read it and comment, but apparently Peter says the protocol must not be revealed to me or other campfire users until Recreation has agreed. I am puzzled about how that fits with Sandy's comments to Kelvin (below).
It appears to me that Parks is determined to put the protocol in place without community consultation. They have killed the Campbell Rink youth campfire program already. It think it is very disrespectful to keep this discussion behind closed doors any longer (five weeks have passed since all this trouble began).
Could you please ask Parks to open up the protocol conversation today? I need the information to put it into the park newsletter. A park friend, concerned about this issue, has given us a special donation for a large March print run, but I am having to hold off printing, waiting for this long overdue information.
hello Peter, i have just dashed home from the farmers' market at the request of rec staff. They are lighting the regular market campfire/cooking fire to make hot chocolate. It's unclear whether this program in in CLASS as a weekly event or you wish to be notified every time. But our park e-mail is down and the staff can't go up to Wallace or McCormick to write to you from there. The fire will be lit at 6.25 and I am writing to you at 6.21.
There will be a campfire with Councillor Joe Mihevc this afternoon from 4:30 till 6pm. Then we may have a campfire from 6pm till 8pm for Friday night supper patrons.
Thank you for your e-mail, staff will investigate and look into your complaint.
There is no complaint being made....We as on-site recreation staff were directed to email this address to further notify of campfires when they happen. Hope this clarifies.
We finally got more information from staff on the campfire issue.
Prepared by: Peter Leiss and Sandy Straw
Circulated to: Councillor Giambrone, Brenda Librecz, Paul Ronan, Don Boyle, Kelvin Seow, Tino DeCastro, Intiaz Ruffudeen, Captain Kim Dobson
Contact for further information: Sandy Straw, Manager Parks 416 392-1909
Date: March 1, 2007
Establish a protocol to enable fire programs (cooking, warming, special event fires) to take place in City parks for the enjoyment of the community, while ensuring that such fires comply with Toronto Fire Services and Parks Forestry & Recreation regulations, to protect the City of Toronto, staff, volunteers and members of the public in the areas of fire safety, legal liability and bylaw compliance.
November 2006 – January 2007 It was identified that fire programs operated through the Recreation Branch in conjunction with Friends of Dufferin Grove had been taking place on a regular basis in City parks within ward 18 without approval from Toronto Fire Services.
It was further determined that: - Existing fires should cease until Fire Services was satisfied sites were safe, conditions were in place to ensure appropriate approvals - the “permit process” to identify these activities was currently being implemented through a blanket permit on CLASS by the Recreation Supervisor. Parks had no access to this information on CLASS. Communication between the Recreation and Parks supervisors with respect to programming in parks needed to improve. - the Director of Recreation in an email to the Recreation Supervisor directed staff that the fires must receive approval through Parks Branch and Fire Services
January – February 2007 Parks Supervisor hosted several meetings attended by Permit section, Community Recreation, Fire, General Manager’s office, Forestry and Councillor Giambrone’s staff. The purpose of the meetings was to: a) review existing situation and identify positive and negative aspects of current sites and operating procedures b) Identify, under the new structure, who would need to do what c) determine the necessary plan of action d) Write a protocol that would capture the best of the existing programs while outlining the procedures and guidelines to be followed to ensure compliance with Fire Services and to support Parks branch role in approving activities in parks in a timely manner. e) ensure all members of the staff team participated in the writing and were in agreement with the final document f) share the new protocol with Friends of Dufferin Grove and other interested parties for comment Site meetings were undertaken by the parties listed above to review existing fire sites and identify positive and negative aspects of each. The Fire Captain identified revised sites and conditions that would be acceptable to Fire Services. Parks Forestry & Recreation staff was then expected to discuss and come to agreement on the sites and conditions and to incorporate those details into the protocol that was being developed by Dufferin Grove staff who do the fires and Parks Branch staff.
The expected result was a protocol that would: - ensure the community was able to continue enjoying the fire programs - provide direction for Recreation staff that they were now leading the fire programs in compliance with Fire Services - provide a process whereby Recreation staff were consulting with Fire Services and Parks staff, complying with the protocol and receiving approval for their fire programs in a timely and effective manner - ensure city staff, volunteers and members of the public were safe within the City’s legal liability umbrella.
- all members of the work team and senior PFR staff support the added value the fire programs bring to the community especially as it relates to youth
- to ensure minimal disruption to the existing fire programs, particularly at Dufferin Grove, Parks and Fire Services approved a “pilot” to test the new sites and conditions while ensuring the community enjoyed their fire programs
- existing information that recreation staff working with the fire programs compiled was used as the basis for the protocol. These staff also took a lead role in writing and commenting on the protocol
- discrepancies still exist in relation to the areas that were deemed to be acceptable to all parties (including Fire Services) at the site meetings, and the areas and conditions that were used, most recently at Campbell Park.
- It is recommended, Permit section create a permitting classification that will address the various fire programs and then remove the blanket permit program from CLASS.
- While community consultation on PFR programs and protocols is encouraged and supported it must be recognized that legislative and other similar requirements of city employees are information for the public and not topics that may be revised at individual community meetings to reflect the varied interests or perspectives found within neighbourhoods.
- Jutta Mason and Mayssan decided to cancel the Campbell fire program February 28. They sited the fact that the two Fire Services approved sites were not acceptable for the program.
- Parks staff are not able to approve sites that have not been approved by Fire Services
- Parks and Recreation staff will recall the work team, including Fire Services, to further review sites that will meet Fire Services approval and be acceptable to Parks and Recreation staff involved with programming and permit approvals
- Jutta Mason as representative of Friends of Dufferin Grove, will be invited to review the existing protocol and participate in the upcoming site meetings to ensure the messaging from Fire Services is understood as a required piece of the protocol.
Before we can analyze this briefing document, I need the information I have been asking for, for all these weeks -- the campfire/cooking fire protocol proposed by Parks, still not made public
You may agree that this document is critical information because of this statement from the Parks briefing note:
"legislative and other similar requirements of city employees are information for the public and not topics that may be revised at individual community meetings to reflect the varied interests or perspectives found within neighbourhoods."
Would you be able to try again, to get these legislative requirements?
Negotiations can't really proceed when we are don't have the text of the rules.
Your Parks briefing note cautions: "legislative and other similar requirements of city employees are information for the public and not topics that may be revised....to reflect the varied interests or perspectives found within neighbourhoods."
So it becomes very important to know what the legislation on cooking fires is.
From your briefing note: "It was identified that fire programs operated through the Recreation Branch in conjunction with Friends of Dufferin Grove had been taking place on a regular basis in City parks within ward 18 without approval from Toronto Fire Services....Parks staff are not able to approve sites that have not been approved by Fire Services."
>From the Toronto Fire Services Fire Prevention Division web site: Open air burning shall not be permitted unless approved, or unless such burning consists of a small, confined fire, supervised at all times, and used to cook food on a grill or a barbecue.
This is identical to the Ontario Fire Code wording: ONTARIO FIRE CODE 22.214.171.124. “Open Air Burning shall not be permitted unless approved, or unless such burning consists of a small, confined fire, supervised at all times, and used to cook food on a grill or a barbeque”.
And identical again to the City of Toronto Parks By-law § 608-10 Open air burning is not permitted within the City of Toronto except with approval by the Toronto Fire Services Fire Prevention Division. Open air burning shall not be permitted unless approved, or unless such burning consists of a small, confined fire, supervised at all times, and used to cook food on a grill or a barbecue.
But from District Fire Chief Kim Dobson, South Command Fire Prevention, to Chris Gallop, assistant to Councillor Adam Giambrone, Jan.30 2007 "Chris, the Toronto Fire Services has prohibited all open fires in the city unless approved, (except if the fire is contained in a barbecue, supervised and used for cooking)."
PLEASE CLARIFY: The Ontario Fire Code and the City Municipal Code say a barbecue or a grill. For many years, park cooking fires have used a grill. Fire Chief Dobson seems to have taken out "grill" from his description of what kind of fire does not need fire services approval. But you see that all the other citations include a "small, contained fire, and used to cook food on a grill or a barbecue" in their exemption (from fires requiring Fire Services approval).
So our understanding is that it's up to Parks, Forestry and Recreation to give permission for any small, contained park cooking fire program using a grill, simply as the owner of the property. Fire Services are not involved.
Could you ask Fire Services and let us know whether this analysis is wrong, and if so, why? We need this information prior to any participation in cooking fire site meetings, so that we can come prepared knowing the legislation.
The joy of a park that's safe at night -- when I went to do my park check at 11 pm tonight, there was the group at the campfire, just preparing to put it out. Others of their group were further off, sitting on Heidrun's bench near the bio-toilet enclosure; and another group was near the cob courtyard. How pleasant and reassuring to have people in the park at night -- that's why the campfires were started, and that's why it's so good to have them now.
I wonder if you could clarify something for me. When Brenda Librecz came to the park before the restructuring was put in place, she said that recreation supervisors are meant to be the "quarterback,'" and that all community requests should go through you.
However, since then it seems like the direct approach is also preferred by some City staff. There are a few issues on the table and I'd like to address them in whatever way works best. Does it still make sense for me to ask you all new questions and then you redirect them?
And if that's the case,* could you please send me the most recent draft version of the campfire protocol,* so that I can comment on it? The Trillium grant has begun and we're getting some requests for campfire help from other areas of the city -- it's best to address the situation now.
Please see the attached draft for the draft protocol.
FIRE PERMIT PROTOCAL
Types of Campfires
1- Designated fire pits. (Existing Parks with Identified Fire Pits)
2- Non-designated Programming Campfires
1- Designated Fire Pit sites are approved by Fire dept., PFR. Staff or Public requests for use and scheduling will be by the Permit office only.
2- Non-designated Programming campfire sites are Recreation driven and approved by Fire dept, Parks and Forestry. Requests for use will be through Permits only. These fires may be used for cooking or warming. Once a permit is acquired, Recreation staff will enter programming details in Class through the Rec. Supervisor.
Further Definition of Non-designated Programming Campfire Sites – Type of Permit
1- Seasonal Permits for Recreation Programming Once a site is approved – Recreation staff will need to receive a blanket Permit. Permits need to specify season and the dates and times of use. Permits need to state type of campfire. Class can reflect programming details
2- Occasional Permits for Recreation Programming Once a site is approved – Recreation staff will need to receive an Occasional permit from Permits.
Approving Campfire sites
All staff or the Public will need to obtain approval for all proposed campfire sites in Parks.
1- Contact/Notify Permits with request for approval
2- Contact Parks, Forestry, Recreation and the Fire Dept. for an on-site meeting to identify location and obtain approval.
3- Parks supervisor will provide the Fire Dept., Forestry and Recreation with a site map outlining location of campfire
4- Parks, Forestry, Recreation and the Fire Dept. will sign off on these site plans with approval then forward this to the permits office.
Once sites are approved – How to Permit
1. The permits office will create these campfire areas in class and assign designation, i.e., designated or non-designated.
2. Designated Fire Pits will require a permit issued by the permitting section for each event – to the public or staff. Approval from Parks and Fire must be obtained prior to issuing.
3. For all other Fire Sites Cooking and Warming (non-designated)
Recreation will request a blanket permit from permitting for each area identified for a season. The permit would identify the dates required the times required and identify the program involved. Any changes or additional dates would require an application for a permit. Recreation may also request occasional permits following the same procedure.
4. Permits would then be send to Parks and Fire for approval Once approval is given Permit will be issued to recreation
Use of a campfire site
1) Warming campfires - Campfires used for warmth only must either be 6 meters (20´) away from any building or fence, or in an appliance (barrel, etc.) and no higher than 60 cm (2').
2) Cooking Campfires - Cooking fires must either be 3 meters (10’) from any building or fence, or in an appliance (barrel, etc…) and no higher than 60cm (2’).
Campfires may be used for both but will need to adhere to the height and distance rules above.
Trees – Forestry recommends that all fires should be at least 2 meters from the drip line (overhanging branches) of large trees, or 2 meters from the trunk of small trees.
The area within one meter of the fire circle should be clear of combustible materials, including picnic tables and benches.
The fire must be built on a non-combustible surface. The fire circle should be defined with bricks, stones, or banked sand to ensure that the wood stays within the circle, thereby containing the fire. Cooking appliances such as a barrel, etc., may also be used to contain the fire.
Once approved – fires sites locations need to be created in CLASS. Then Permits can issue permits to the public or allow Recreation to create specific programs within Class.
1. Designated Campfires will be scheduled by Permits Only for approved campfire sites.
2. Non-designated Programming Campfires are for Recreation use only. Permits will create fire areas in CLASS only and state seasonal or occasional use with dates and times.
No campfires will take place on days with smog alerts or winds in excess of 30 kph.
To All Rec staff at Dufferin, please adhere to the following...
1. All central fire pit permits are to be booked through Nellie Rapaso at City Hall
2. All recreation fires must provide 48 hour notice. Ideally, it would be for recreation to set several program days and times for the recreation fires.
Shelley will or has created barcodes for the cooking fire ring next to the ovens, cob fireplace and cob fire pit for April and May.
Since in summer we only use two campfire areas, turning one of them into "central-permits-only" location effectively cuts that program in half. The central campfire area was developed in 1993 by community people including me, first to increase park safety after dark and then to build community. Recreation collaborated actively after the first few years and it has been a much-loved joint program now for many years.
A 50% cut is a very substantial program reduction, which will save no money for Parks but will definitely impoverish the park and the neighbourhood.
Are you willing to reconsider this?
The " Central Fire Pit" is designated and identified as a Fire Pit in the Parks system. As such it has to be permitted. This was discussed at our meetings regarding the protocol and was agreed to by all of the parties including Recreation staff from Dufferin Grove. It did not appear to an issue during our discussions.
These "Fire Pits" are made available to all who may wish to permit them through the Permitting office. Please contact Heather Chislett to arrange a permit for the events....
Parks is in no way preventing Camp Fires from occurring. Parks simply asks that the process that has been put in place be respected.
The central campfire area has never been used as a centrally permitted area until now. The reason for that is that it was developed as a local program area in partnership between community and Recreation. As far as I know, Recreation has not repudiated that arrangement. So I think there must have been a misunderstanding if you feel they agreed to your new approach.
Up until now, when someone called Permits to ask for a fire permit for Dufferin Grove, they simply received the rec staff number and came to the park and engaged with the rec staff and/or community. In that way we were able to keep the campfires safe and incorporate people from as far as Scarborough into this park in a very welcoming way.
That is how we need to continue. The new arrangement is too costly for the groups who come to this park, and it undermines an existing successful program as well as park safety. Please let us resume what worked for us up until now.
We have permits for April that we are using with campfires. Can we insert in CLASS the programmed park safety campfires which happen in the evening (7-11pm) daily: monday to sunday? I will check to see what other things there are.
Mayssan, we will need to make sure this fits into our Recreation Budget. Please prepare a budget outline for this. We will also need to provide Peter with a staff schedule on who will be on site supervising the fires. We may need to have two staff on or one staff and a volunteer.
Please prepare both items before we go forth.
I think we've hit the wall with Parks and campfires. Peter Leiss finally sent me their new citywide campfire protocol today, for the first time. The protocol cuts our program by 50% or more and requires staffing that appears to be financially impossible for Recreation. None of this is based on any problem with the campfire program in the last 13 years.
I don't want to watch this wonderful program be destroyed. A list of possible remedies includes:
1. That you request Don Boyle and Paul Ronan to meet with you and me about this problem.
2. That we call a public meeting to discuss the multiple problems we're experiencing with Parks since the restructuring
3. That we let campfire users in the neighbourhood know that they will have to make their campfires unsupported and unsanctioned, practising civil disobedience, if they wish to continue
4. That we try to interest the media in any such acts
It's very sad that it's come to this, when so many good things are happening and spring is drawing so many people back into parks. Please let me know your advice, so we can address this problem. I have cc'd the heads of the Parks and Environment Committee and the Community Development and Recreation Committee as well, since this is a citywide policy issue too. You will note that I have not cc'd Sandy Straw, since I'm told she's away for the rest of the month at least.
The Recreation Budget at Dufferin Grove Park does not allow for direct staff campfire supervision of all /*local partnership campfire programs*/. Staff supervision is determined by on site staff on a case by case basis. Please see point 4 in the suggested protocol sent by Jutta Mason.
We have around 3 campfire requests till the end of the month. 8 scheduled so far for the month of May. Please advise.
I think we are all at the point where we would like to get this protocol signed, stamped and sealed and all move on with our lives. Personally I'm pretty happy with the evolution I've seen through the various drafts and I think staff on both the Parks and the Rec side have done a good job of working through this issue. But if there are still outstanding concerns, now is the time to raise them. Feel free to call me to discuss.
I have attached the Protocol that was agreed to for your information. The protocol identifies how Designated Fire Pits and non designated campfire sites are treated. This was agreed to by the parties that the Designated Fire Pit sites would be permitted by the permitting department. This makes those sites available to anyone but require a permit to use. You were in attendance at the meetings where this was structured and agreed to.
Parks allowed a Pilot program to give Recreation the time be acustomed to the protocol. We are still having issues with notification and on occasion placement of fires. Tino DeCastro has instructed his staff to adhere to the agreement.
Parks has made every effort to make this agreement work. I would expect that Recreation should do the same.
I read it over and personally the protocol seems to be workable to me. I don't actually see anything about 48 hour notice by the way, it basically just says that once Parks and Fire approve a permit will be issued to recreation and scheduled in CLASS. Mayssan and Tino probably know more about the what the story is with the 48 hour notice business.
In an effort to resolve the one outstanding issue with the Campfire Protocol, Parks is prepared to have the Designated Fire Pit at Dufferin Grove placed into the class system. This would then remove the requirement for central permitting of that site.
I trust that this resolves the outstanding issue with regards to the Campfire protocol.
To All STAFF, please be advise that we will follow the attached Protocol, which includes the following;
1. Recreation Fires will be scheduled one month in advance, on set days and times. The schedule will also include the name of the rec staff responsible for that fire. These FIRES will be placed in CLASS by Shelley , who will in turn provide CLASS reports to be posted at Dufferin the Kitchen and FAXED to Peter Leiss.
2. All other parties wishing to have a FIRE will need to book that request with the staff at the PARK, who will need to email Peter Leiss, Shelley and myself 48 hours(two working days prior to the FIRE for approval). Example Wed email, for Saturday or Sunday Fires. Shelley will then place in CLASS, a report will be developed, a copy for the PARK and a FAX sent to Peter.
3. Staff will need to be on site for ALL FIRES.
Peter Leiss, please let me know if I am missing something, from our conversation.
Myself, my two year old so and I attended a campfire at the south end of Dufferin Grove park that was very pleasant last night. I wanted to thank you for making such opportunities possible in Toronto. We are hard working professionals who rarely get the chance to leave the city and as a result, our son has little opportunity to experience this kind of outdoor fun!
There were a number of friends with us, including a gentleman visiting from Newfoundland, and I know everyone really had a great time. In addition, I remember a woman passing by who dropped in to join us remarking on how the presence of our party made the park a much safer place.
The e-mail from Tino DeCastro (below) appears to be the actual Citywide campfire protocol that Parks is promoting. It is unworkable for the following reasons:
1. it adds a complex layer of bureaucracy that neither increases park user safety nor protects the City from legal claims
2. it converts a very inexpensive, very successful community development tool into a major staffing cost
3. it reflects the (understandable) inexperience of Parks in programming
4. it prevents skilled Recreation staff from doing their work and using their judgment
5. it will most certainly be seen, both locally and in the media, as undermining the community's enjoyment of the park
I would like to suggests that these difficulties could be resolved very easily. The categories that are now called "designated" and "non-designated" (in the protocol Peter Leiss sent me on Wednesday) need to be renamed to reflect the actual situation.
There are two classes of campfires:
1. centrally permitted "fire ring" campfires, arranged directly by Permits, with Parks determining and applying the safety controls that they deem necessary, and the City charging $53.50 plus whatever insurance surcharge they require
2. Recreation program campfires, almost always involving cooking fires
Recreation program campfires are run by Recreation staff. There are two classes of Recreation program campfires:
1. special event campfires run by Recreation staff, with a permit giving a single date and time, and following the successful City campfire practices of the past sixty (100?) years
2. Recurrent Recreation campfires programs that are local partnership campfire programs, with Recreation and local community groups (formal or informal) being the partners, and a single yearly program-permit per location (to reduce everyone's paperwork!)
The local partnership campfire programs currently exist in only five locations of which I am aware:
1. Dufferin Grove Park (13 years)
2. Wallace Emerson (3 years)
3. MacGregor Park (2 years)
4. Campbell Park (2 years)
5. Susan Tibaldi Park (1 year)
All five local partnership campfire programs are run with the assistance of Dufferin Grove Recreation staff. There are currently no other City Recreation staff experienced in running such programs. There are however community groups in other areas who wish to enter such partnerships with Recreation staff (currently four are in active talks -- Harbourfront CC / Little Norway Park; Jimmie Simpson Advisory Council; Stonegate Community; and Dovercourt Park). Recreation staff from Dufferin Grove are willing to work with Recreation staff local to those areas, and those community groups, to help them set up their own local partnership campfires there.
Recreation has primary responsibility for this powerful community development tool. The wording of the permit must allow experienced Recreation staff to respond flexibly to community requests as they arise. The following cooperative arrangements are also necessary:
1. Parks, Fire, and Forestry need to collaborate with Recreation to evaluate new campfire location requests -- to make sure the locations are suitable for the campfire partnership programs without damaging people or parks
2. The Permits section cannot issue individual or group permits for local partnership campfire program locations BUT they can refer requesters to the Recreation staff who run those programs. This reflects existing practice and allows all citizens equitable access to this program.
3. Recreation staff who run a local campfire program must either include these centrally referred requester(s) in the existing program (reflecting current practice) or work with City Recreation staff in other locations to help the requester(s) initiate a campfire partnership in their own neighbourhood. This second option is up to the requesters and to the Recreation staff who would be involved.
4. The balance between direct staff campfire supervision, and supervision by experienced campfire users with Recreation staff accessible as needed, is up to the discretion of Recreation staff experienced with this program, working with local community groups, as are the other individual details of each campfire.
5. As you know, our "practical research group" (CELOS) has just received a $50,000 Trillium grant, allowing us to help strengthen local community/Recreation partnerships of all kinds in ten neighbourhoods that invite us, between now and next April. This adds a third element to the addition of new local partnership campfire programs.
I'll be at the park much of today, since we are very occupied there with many things to do. It's important to address the very much unresolved campfire issue quickly now, since it's currently creating chaos and confusion, while the spring season brings many people back into the park and the staff need to turn their attention to them.
I see two basic problems here:
1. The bureaucracy is focussed on control more than outcomes, whereas it should be the opposite.
2. People involved in this do not seem to be working from an agreed objective. Organization, implementation, evaluation, and controls should be based on objectives. Management 101.
Could you get permission for me to have a campfire with some other park friends this Friday evening, at the cob courtyard location? We want to try out a few campfire cooking recipes for the summer and also talk about various bits and pieces of park stuff.
We'll go from suppertime until maybe 10.30 or 11.
Tino please respond - the times indicated are outside of staffing hours.
We can still help set up, be on call and ensure fire is out - but not be on site throughout. This request is like the other 12 that we've put on hold. We need to know by Wednesday right?
So what is the plan to address this staffing issue?
For the moment rec. staff have been asked to staff all campfire events. So I believe we're good to go.
Tino - can this be notification of Jutta's planned campfire event. Also I will forward you and Shelley the info for the other two campfires this weekend in the next few hours. This means an extra staffing of about 15 hours in total for this week.
Thank you for the fire permits from a few weeks ago. I guess those are invalid now. I've been advised by Tino that you will need a list of programmed campfires with staff on site. [Attached.]
approval for budget increase and staffing. I don't know the staffing schedule yet I expect It will be myself. I'll keep you up to date.
The short notice issue is still an issue. You have been advised a number of times of this. In the future approval will not be given with less than 48 hours notice.
The idea that I will need park staff to stay at my side for a campfire on Friday night is too silly for me -- and besides that, it's a waste of city funds. I therefore withdraw my campfire request.
After 13 years of helping to run a highly successful park campfire program at Dufferin Grove, it now appears that I have to be supervised by a rec staff person every minute when I have a campfire. This is a waste of city money and also disrespectful of park friends, and I have cancelled my campfire request for Friday.
It does seem that it's now time to schedule a broad public meeting about this and related problems. I think the approach Parks has been taking on this and a number of other issues has become quite disruptive of our efforts in this park. So I would like to ask you to attend this meeting.
The May newsletter is due on Tuesday. Could you let me know whether you are willing to speak with community people, and if so, what would be a good date for you? The meeting will need to be on a weekday evening, sometime in the second or third week of May. I'll ask Councillor Giambrone if he's willing to sponsor a mail drop in the neighbourhood, and if he's willing to run the meeting as well.
The message informed Jutta that
1.Paul Ronan is in meetings all day and can't respond personally to her request
2. Peter Leiss and Tino DeCastro will develop criteria for who could be considered a "competent person" and therefore be allowed to do campfires without staff being present.
This is a request for you to come to a public meeting at Dufferin Grove Park, addressing the multiple problems that have developed with Parks management/ community interactions.
1. confusion and lack of collaboration around community campfires
2. development of farmers' market policy without collaboration with those who run the markets
3. development of a new bio-toilet design without involvement of the builder (Georgie)
4. lack of collaboration around the park washroom open hours, leading
...and there's more. The aim of the public meeting is to find a way to restore the trust and active cooperation (between citizens and Parks management) which has reached a new low.
I'm hoping that you would have time to be at such a meeting on a weekday evening, either in the week of May 7 or May 14?
I need to know on Monday April 30, if possible, so that I can put this information into the May newsletter. I have already asked Paul Ronan if he can attend such a meeting -- I think that would be a good thing, for him to get a sense of how his division's new centralized approaches are affecting our parks in the day-to-day. If you agree, perhaps a word from you would encourage him to come.
Thanks for your phone message from yesterday, saying that you and Tino would now develop a protocol for "competent persons" who can also run campfires, not only staff. Four things:
1. any campfire protocol, including this one, should be developed with campfire user input up front
2. you have not commented on the protocol suggestions I made after you sent me your draft protocol
3. you have made no suggestion for the public consultation about your draft protocol, a consultation that was said to be imminent back in January
4. your current approach continues to undermine Dufferin Grove programming.
Mayssan told me that your stand on 48 hours' notice is firm, and yesterday showed me this statement of yours to her, to dispel my disbelief:
"The short notice issue is still an issue. You have been advised a number of times of this. In the future approval will not be given with less than 48 hours notice."
I reiterate that the campfire program should be a recreation/community partnership whose details can be flexibly worked out by the very competent rec staff under Tino's supervision. I don't believe that your intervention or correction of rec staff is helpful to park programming.
This weekend staff had to cancel a yearly Maypole campfire that has been going on for so many years that the organizers didn't realize they'd have to apply for the campfire permit 48 hours in advance. Community enjoyment of the park is much undermined by the current Parks approach, which seems to many of us arbitrary, focused on process to the detriment of outcomes. This is why I have asked the Councillor to address the problems that have developed, through a public meeting in May.
I look forward to the meeting should the councillor wish to hold it.
Hi Tino, I'm trying again, to get campfire permission for this Friday evening. Can you let me know whether/if you and Peter have devised a definition for a "competent person" to have a campfire?
I'd like to be declared a competent person on the basis that I started these campfires with specific permission from the City's Fire Safety Chief in 1993 and that since then they have been working well with my involvement. I'd like to be designated a trainer of other campfire people including staff who are new to the operation (i.e that's another thing I've been doing for years, helping new staff learn the campfire protocol). Having an outsider train staff is quite consistent with what the City already does in many other cases.
Please let me know whether this can be approved by Friday, and if not, by when. Early Thursday morning I'm meeting with Councillor Giambrone and Chris Gallop to plan the public meeting, and I need to give them an update on this situation at that time.
Fire Safety Training
1) Fire Containment: The fire circle should have a maximum diameter of 60 cm (24¨). A cooking fire should be kept small so as not to burn the food.
2) The fire must be built on a non-combustible surface. The fire circle should be defined with bricks, stones, or banked sand to ensure that the wood stays within the circle, thereby containing the fire.
3) Distance and dimensions: 1) Warming campfires – Campfires used for warmth only must either be 6 meters (20´) away from any building or fence, or in an appliance (third-barrel, etc.) and no higher than 60 cm (2´). 4) 2) Cooking campfires – Cooking fires must either be 3 meters (10´) from any building or fence, or in an appliance (third-barrel, etc) and no higher than 60 cm (2´).
5) Trees – Forestry recommends that all fires should be at least 2 meters from the drip line (overhanging branches) of large trees, or 2 meters from the trunk of small trees. The area within one meter of the fire circle should be clear of combustible materials, including picnic tables and benches.
6) Safety equipment: There must be two buckets of water and one bucket of sand at hand to put the fire out fast if necessary, except in winter. In winter, have two buckets of water close enough to the fire that the water doesn´t freeze, and also have a bucket of snow. Sand is usually frozen solid in winter, so snow works better.
7) There must be a shovel, which may be used to turn logs or rearrange the fire in order to damp it down or build it up. Then use it to stir the ashes to wet them evenly when extinguishing the fire.
8) Cooking equipment: Use a solid trivet and grill or a similar system, or a metal spit for barbecuing. Make sure any grill or pot is very stable over the fire.
9) Extinguishing the fire: Note - a bucket of sand is safer for extinguishing a fire that is still very hot (no steam). Either suffocate the coals by putting sand on them, followed by water, or put water on the coals and stir them to dampen them and put them out. Add more sand to suffocate the embers. Make sure they are cold to the touch.
10) For occasional non-designated campfire circles, scrape up the coals and ashes and remove them from the site. If a depression was made for the fire, fill the circle with the soil that was removed. Use of a cooking appliance such as a third-barrel requires less clean-up and therefore facilitates a no-trace campfire.
11) No fires will take place during smog alerts or extreme winds.
We have added an additional form to be completed by staff to ensure that the volunteer is deemed a 'competent person' to supervise the campfire. The check list is based on the definition of a competent person from the Workplace Health and Safety Act. This is how the Act defines: " 'a person who a)is qualified because of knowledge, training and experience to organize the work and its performance b)is familiar with this act and the regulations that apply to the work and c)has knowledge of any potential or actual danger to health or safety in the workplace ('personne competent')"
Peter, please see below. The Staff , Jutta and I met today and here is what we would like to see adapted. Please review and advise. I can meet on Tuesday ...let me know.
Just to put in writing what Chris and I talked about yesterday, regarding the 48-hours (business days) rule of giving Parks prior notice re community campfire events -- this is the last thing (once the volunteer-training protocol is accepted) that still blocks the program.
Campfires are weather-based and also based on community energy. If a person has done campfires before and on a lovely Friday they find they suddenly have the time/energy and good weather to host a community campfire, it is very distressing to have to tell them no, they should have planned ahead five days before.
Although Peter Leiss has never given his reason for the 48-hour notice, I assume he wants orderly documentation of community/Recreation partnership programs in the park to address liability concerns. I've discussed this with the Recreation staff at Dufferin Grove and I think they have a good solution which will satisfy that wish as well as restoring the important elements of flexibility and responsiveness in the program.
Here's the proposal: Recreation staff will continue to document the following details about all campfires for their Recreation campfire binder, on their campfire forms:
1. date, time
2. name, address, and phone number/e-mail address of in-charge person, date of training
3. any relevant details about the campfire, e.g. acoustic guitar jam, planning session with campfire food, campfire recipe-testing, annual picnic of a group, spontaneous party, birthday party, etc.
4. approximate number of participants
In addition to storing this information in their binder as before, Recreation will also immediately fax this form to Parks for their files. If there are any comments from the group or any issues about giving them a future permit, Recreation staff will follow up with Parks after the campfire.
In this way Recreation can run the program without being blocked, and Parks can have complete documentation.
Please help us make this final change.
Thoughts on Jutta's suggestion? As you know, Councillor Giambrone would very much like to find a solution that is acceptable to all stakeholders as soon as possible, so that we can finally resolve this longstanding issue.
It would be great if we could get a pick up of ash next to the ash pit in front of the big oven. There is quite a lot and more to come, so the sooner the better. Ash was placed in many recycling boxes for easy pick up.
Parks can longer pickup the ashes from the Wood Burning ovens as this is a prohibited substance for disposal.(Please - law0746.pdf)
I would suggest that you look for alternatives to disposal. The ashes could be used in the gardens in the Park. (Please (UsesForFireplaceAshes.pdf))
Re: no more ash pickup from Dufferin Grove bake ovens, City says wood ash is a PROHIBITED SUBSTANCE
Peter, what you've uncovered here about wood ashes being a prohibited substance is quite a revelation -- just the tip of the iceberg, as I see from reading the attached bylaw. Park trash mixed with pop cans and paper is also prohibited, even dusty trash! When I consider that this by-law is from 2004 and the City only just began offering recycling in parks in 2006, the number of times that Parks Maintenance must have had to break the City's own bylaw, just by hauling the park litter bags to the dump, must have been very alarming for your staff! And it still goes on. I can can imagine that you must be alarmed by this by-law too, since you as the supervisor are ultimately responsible for all these violations.
I am cc'ing this to our neighbourhood list and a few media people, with the idea that the more people who consider the problem of illegal trash in parks, the more good solutions we may collectively come up with.
Just to clarify: other prohibited substances in the municipal by-law you attached here are
- pieces of wood, greater than 4 feet long (e.g. all those pieces of wrecked picnic tables, rotted-out bench slats etc., in most parks including Dufferin Grove, can't be dumped) -- City of Toronto By-law No. 746-2004 Section (P)
- trash mixed with dog feces (in every garbage bag in the park) -- Section Q)
- trash mixed with recyclables (every garbage bag in the park) -- Section (T)
-- Incinerator ash, red ash and "any other type of ash" -- Section (X) -- campfires and wood oven ashes (from tree branches) are lumped with trash burned in incinerators
-- Dusty materials -- Section (Y)
Focusing only on ash for a moment -- you have attached some material suggesting alternative uses for wood ash. We could "use the ash as fertilizer" in the park gardens (but your material mentions it will kill the plants in any large amounts). Or it can be "used as an inspect repellent or to make soap, or to wash woodstove windows or to improve traction on slippery sidewalks."
Possible specific applications at the park:
1. Mix the ash in with the other mixed park trash -- the existing mixed bags are already prohibited, so it should make no difference -- additional benefit is it may absorb some of the dog poo smell in the trash bags
2. Scatter the ashes all over the park to fertilize the grass -- the only problem is that the wood-oven ash is often mixed with nails so that might be tricky for the park lawnmowers
3. save the ashes for winter and use them on slippery sidewalks all around the park -- that would be less toxic than the large amounts of salt currently used by Parks Maintenance -- not as attractive, though, if the sidewalks look gray-ish and people track ashes into their houses.
Neighbours -- do you have any other ideas, now that Parks supervisor Peter Leiss says his park maintenance staff won't pick up ashes anymore?
Peter, of all the many regulations you have proposed over the last four months, to stop people from cooking food with fire in parks http://www.dufferinpark.ca/problems/wiki/wiki.php?n=Problems2007.CampfiresPartlyRestored, this by-law seems the most far-ranging. If you want to comply with the whole by-law, though, you'll need to figure out how your staff can separate all the rest of the prohibited trash before they take it to the dump. Tricky -- and expensive -- at a moment when the parks and rec general manager is calling for 10% internal spending cuts. Maybe there's another solution for the park's wood ash? People already separate it out, so that's one less step. Where does the City takes its own incinerator ash?
hello -- as you know, Sandy, and as you may also know, Constanza, I've been involved with cooking fires at Dufferin Grove, Christie Pits, Wallace Emerson, Campbell Park and other places for many years. Last January, permission for the fires was withdrawn, and then a month later reinstated as a "pilot project" (14-year-old pilot -- geriatric!) with a large amount of new paperwork.
Soon after that, discussions about the pilot, its paperwork, its protocol etc., moved behind closed doors and have remained there, as far as I know. In the meantime, CELOS got a Trillium grant to give support to community groups in other Toronto parks, and whenever a project involved cooking with fire, there was difficulty in getting a permit. Some permit requests were turned down flat, causing grief to local communities and to the campfire cooks.
This is not ideal, and so it now seems time to re-open the file to the public, including me. I have therefore just sent off a freedom of information request, and I've attached the questions here. They'll come to you anyway, Sandy, but I wanted to explain why I've now had to take this route. Direct collaboration would always be better but it's abundantly clear by now that Peter Leiss doesn't do collaboration of the sort that first built those campfires. I'm hoping he is not representative of the new wave..
This request will involve busy people having to do quite a bit of extra work hunting through e-mails, meeting minutes, and so on, but that's the law, and I feel that I now have to seek help there.
Please feel free to share this e-mail with anyone.
Access to Information request: detailed description of requested records
I would like to examine the following documents:
1. All existing open-air burning/ campfire/ cooking fire/ fire pit permit rules in any city parks
2. All existing open-air burning/ campfire/ cooking fire protocols applying to city parks, including all draft protocols or pilot projects (please specify draft, pilot, or final)
3. All minutes of Parks staff meetings where open-air burning/ campfires/ cooking fires in parks were discussed
4. All Parks staff correspondence (including e-mails) that discuss open-air burning/ campfires/ cooking fires in parks.
Since the correspondence which I’m requesting deals with a matter involving the actions of public officials, I assume there is no need to remove staff names before showing me the e-mails or other correspondence.
Re: Access request 07-3897 (A-Gen-2007-03892)
As a follow-up to our conversation yesterday, I have attached my freedom of information request of October 11 2007.
What I got back was four documents: 1. Minutes of a Parks managers' team meeting, May 9 2007 2. Minutes of a Parks managers' team meeting May 24 2007 3. Minutes of a PFR Directors' meeting June 14 2007 4. three pages of unidentified handwritten notes, no date, no author
Your response letter says "access is granted in full to 18 pages of responsive records which have been found by staff of PFR."
I need to see the rest of the records that I requested: 1. fire permit rules that exist already, in any city parks (i.e. fire permit rules that have been in force in any of part of Toronto including Etobicoke, North York and Scarborough as well as the central area) 2. fire permit protocols that apply to city parks in any part of Toronto, including all existing draft protocols 3. All parks correspondence including e-mails that discuss open-air burning/campfires/cooking fires in city parks.
I am aware that there are many e-mails in existence -- I was copied on some of them until Parks and Recreation staff stopped copying me. I would like to see both the e-mails that cc me and the e-mails that don't. Here's a list of likely persons sending or receiving such e-mails:
Paul Ronan Sandy Straw Ed Fearon Peter Leiss Tino DeCastro Mayssan Shuja Uddin
My request is based on a philosophy that was in effect for many years at Parks and Recreation:
All new policy deliberations affecting Torontonians should include: (a) detailed, public documentation of reasons for a new policy being considered (b) thorough consultation with user groups affected (c) detailed, public documentation of the results of the new policy
As this philosophy was not employed by PFR staff in the case of campfires, it has become necessary for park users to make the documentation public themselves, in order to prepare for the public consultations and follow-up that are needed here.
The other reason for the request has to do with PFR operating costs. In less than ten years, the staff of PFR has increased by over 700, the operating budget by over $60 million (inflation-adjusted), with population levels almost the same. It's important to find out what is taking so much extra staff time. CELOS has a hunch that additional bureaucracy is one reason. As an example we need to measure the number of transactions that took place around the campfire policies, despite almost no change in practice.
I look forward to seeing the other materials I have requested, or to a decision letter citing exemptions in the Act that prevent this disclosure.