Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Campfire Pit to be Brought to Parks and Environment Committee

It has been an eventful week (and it is only Tuesday!)  I want to thank everyone who took the time to write letters to the Parks Department and to Councillor Fletcher.  You made it clear that campfires are important to our community and your voice has been heard. The Toronto Star even picked up the story and published an article today (see the link below).  The City and our Councillor have voiced their commitment to maintaining authorized campfires in our park.  That is the good news.

The bad news is the City wants the campfire pit structure to be dismantled, stored in the fieldhouse and put back together each time we want to have a campfire. 

We can still save our campfire pit.  Installing a grate over the campfire pit remains, to my mind, a viable option to address concerns about unauthorized fires.  It seems like Councillor Fletcher agrees and intends to present the issue to the Parks and Environment Committee on November 2.  You can have an impact on the outcome by writing to the Committee.  I will provide the contact information shortly.

Below is the correspondence from the Parks Department requiring the removal of our campfire pit along with Councillor Fletcher's response.  I have also attached the Open Air Fire Burning guidelines.  Finally, I have attached a link to an article published in the Toronto Star about our campfire pit. 

We have not had a fully satisfactory resolution of this matter but the lines of communication are opening and progress is being made. 

Thanks again for all of your support!

Sent via email to Councillor Fletcher [councillor_fletcher@toronto.ca] on October 25, 2011.

Dear Councillor Fletcher,

Thank you for raising the issue of the fire pit in Withrow Park to my attention. I understand that there has been some confusion about the status of fires in the park, and in particular about the status of the bricks and pavers that have been installed as a firepit in the park.

As you know, we allow outdoor fires in Withrow Park around a fire by permit and under certain conditions. This process is to ensure that outside fires meet the necessary conditions to ensure public safety, prevent conflict with the adjacent community and other park uses, and to protect the trees and other park assets. The past practice for these permits, as required by our policies and Toronto Fire Services, is for temporary edging to be installed for the time of the permit only, and then removed when the permit is over.

Earlier this fall, some pavers and bricks were installed for a permitted fire, but remained on site after the permit without permission from our Parks staff. This installation has attracted some unwanted late-night activity, including fires and some garbage on site that residents complained about. In consultation with the Fire Department, a decision was made to remove the pavers from the site.

Just to be clear, we will continue to support fires in the park, as long as they abide by the permit process. Further, the pavers that are currently in the park will be stored in the field house and made available for groups to use as temporary edging around their fire.

I hope this clarifies the issue, but please feel free to contact me if there are any other questions.


Richard Ubbens R.P.F. Director, Parks
City of Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation 4th Floor, West Tower City Hall

October 25, 2011
Richard Ubbens
Director, Parks
City of Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation 4th Floor, West Tower City Hall
Dear Mr. Ubbens,

Re: Withrow Park Fire Pit

Thank you for your letter regarding fire pits in parks and the situation with the Withrow fire pit. I see from your letter that currently the fire code and PFR policies prevent a permanent fire pit structure. Of course the concern with a permanent and open fire pit is that non-permitted fires will be held in the park. Understandably this is a worry. However, another solution would be a locked grate over a fire pit - one that would only be opened for permitted fires. This is an option that has not yet been explored.

I will be sending a letter to the Parks and Environment Committee on November 22, 2011 asking for this option to be considered and that the policy of Dec 4, 2007 on "Parks Open Air Burning Policy" be reviewed to this end.
I will be forwarding your letter, the current policy and my letter to you to the Friends of Withrow Park and the many residents who have written to me on this matter.


Paula Fletcher
City Councillor
Ward 30 Toronto Danforth


TheStar Withrow Park users burn over fire pit dispute

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