Rental fees for pizza ovens at a busy Toronto park are upsetting residents
If you're hoping to cook up a delicious Margherita pizza at a certain Toronto park this summer free-of-charge, you're out of luck.
Pizza ovens at Dufferin Grove Park continue to be out of commission due to ongoing construction, and have been shuttered for the last two years since lockdowns.
Residents of the Dufferin neighbourhood were hoping that summer 2022 would be the season they could start cooking with the ovens again - but that hasn't happened.
One of the two bake ovens is closed due to construction in the north-west end of the park, where the former skating rink and clubhouse sat.
However, there is the second oven on the other side of the park - but you'll have to pay to use it.
"In order to provide the community with continued access to a bake oven in the park, staff have made this bake oven available for booking through the One-Time Booking of Parks & Recreation Facilities permit process," said the city's media representative when asked what exactly was happening with the ovens.
This is a new process introduced by Parks & Recreation and it's upsetting local park-goers, who say it is no longer accessible.
"It's available if you're willing to spend $100 to just be able to strike a match," said Jutta Mason, a local resident.
She indicates the price tag for these ovens will be higher than just the $100 rental fee because people will also have to pay for insurance, depending on the size of their gathering.
The City of Toronto website states resident fees for oven booking is $14 while insurance for up to 25 people clocks in at $27.
Combine that with rising food costs and you've turned a once affordable and fun outdoor activity into something many residents can no longer afford - or will be forced to skip.
"With this booking process in place, residents can now reserve the oven for birthday parties and other small events, like they can with other parks and recreation assets," said the city.
Prior to this, there was no booking opportunities available as "use of the ovens was related to programming facilitated/supervised by city staff," they also said.
The Dufferin neighbourhood has been using these ovens for bread and pizza making charge-free for years, but it seems those days are over.
"Its very restrictive because so many people were enjoying it," said Mason.
The city confirmed their own food programs will likely return in 2023, "once the state-of-good-repair project is completed."
Add this oven debacle to the ongoing mess at the park (virtually the entire half where construction has been taking place is torn up) and it seems this summer isn't looking to good for Dufferin Grove.
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