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WFO legal Woes - Ottawa, Ontario

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  • WFO legal Woes - Ottawa, Ontario

    Hi Gang,

    So, what is it - three, four years after my build?

    We fired up the oven last Friday for the first time this season and got a visit from the fire department. Now, this is the same fire department whose assistant chief told us no problem, enjoy, when we looked into regulations prior to building. In this ever-more-restrictive day & age however, we are now being told using our oven is not allowed.

    When I asked which of our city bylaws prohibited it, I was told that is in fact the provincial Ontario Building Code that pertains to open air burning. when I pointed out that this would mean that all of the wineries in the province that have recently installed wood-fired pizza ovens would be required to shut them down, they back-pedaled into municipality interpretation and enforcement.

    I think they're full of it. Clearly, they want to shut us down, but I don't feel we come under the open-air burning regulations that are currently in place and am not about to fold so easily. Still, it's going to be a battle to hang onto the right to light my oven. Now they're saying I should have got a building permit first, which I was told I did not need back when ...

    I'll keep you posted and, in the meantime, welcome your suggestions.


  • #2
    Re: WFO legal Woes - Ottawa, Ontario


    I'm really sorry for your problems. Similarly, our city officials did not feel it warranted a building permit when I started the oven. Likewise, the fire officials were fascinated, and actually asked for a dough recipe.

    Now, they are cracking down on open fires in the county. So far, any fire that is used for the purpose of cooking seems to be OK. I'm worried, though, that this will soon change. I'm really careful about my start up fires, using only clean dry wood, so as not to generate too much smoke.

    I'd check the wording of your laws. I can't believe that fire used for the purpose of cooking food would be banned. Perhaps some supporting details about how well insulated the oven is, with a contained fire. (I have seen more dangerous flames with my neighbors using a kettle charcoal grill and lighter fluid). Point out that when the fire is hot, there is really little, if any, smoke emission. Perhaps even invite them over to see the process and inspect an oven in work. Pizza and beer never hurts too much.

    Please keep us posted with your progress. I hope someone with more legal experience can chime in.
    Mike - Saginaw, MI

    Picasa Web Album
    My oven build thread


    • #3
      Re: WFO legal Woes - Ottawa, Ontario

      Figures.... I think you're on the right track with 'which bylaw?". Keep pulling that out until they show you exactly which rule they think you're breaking.
      Now, is an enclosed oven, an 'open fire'? It's completely contained so the two are in contradiction of one another. I highly doubt they have specifically referenced WFO's, so you may want to get out the dictionary to determine the meaning of the word, then use that against them.
      I would also say that if you can't have a fire, nowhere in the province of Ontario could there be a camp fire... that's more open than your oven!
      In all, someone (neighbor) has complained and now they have the upper hand,unfortunately. Squeaky wheel gets the grease.

      Common sense has been lost... good luck!
      My oven (for now):


      • #4
        Re: WFO legal Woes - Ottawa, Ontario


        im in bracebridge, ON and in the process of building my own oven. i looked into the bylaws for open air burn in my area and it has a section stating a bbq is any manufactured or masonary product and not goverened by the bylaw... well that was my interpretation of it anyway.
        maybe this helps, maybe not
        Here's my build


        • #5
          Re: WFO legal Woes - Ottawa, Ontario

          Hi Sarah

          We have also had problems with our bylaws. I would argue your case but if all else fails try the charcoal fire up. We did this with great results and although you will be compromising, you will hopefully not be in any violation. Be warned though, you need a full 15lb bag with the odd wood slithers to get it to the temperatres neede to make pizza. Good luck

          Penny and Carl


          • #6
            Re: WFO legal Woes - Ottawa, Ontario

            You could explain that it is not "open air burning" as the fire is enclosed. I have been thinking that perhaps a mesh door on the front to prevent any sparks or coals falling out the front might also help to argue that the fire is fully enclosed.
            Kindled with zeal and fired with passion.


            • #7
              Re: WFO legal Woes - Ottawa, Ontario

              These are the regulations as far as I can see. Looks like section 8.3 pertains to

              Forest Fires Prevention Act - O. Reg. 207/96


              • #8
                Re: WFO legal Woes - Ottawa, Ontario

                Move west.


                • #9
                  Re: WFO legal Woes - Ottawa, Ontario

                  There's a guy doing it at farmer's markets in Ottawa. How's he getting away with it? still stupid!
                  My oven (for now):


                  • #10
                    I know this is an old thread but I thought I'd pipe up as I just recently went through a build in the Ottawa area. When I started my build, this thread kept coming up in Google, so I thought some more recent information on Ottawa regulations may be helpful to future builders.

                    During the course of my build, I dealt with both the city's Planning and Development department and Ottawa Fire Services. Fire Services, in particular, were great to deal with. I built a Casa 90 oven and forwarded the specs and built instructions to a Fire Services engineer prior to building and also had a final inspection and approval during the first firing. Getting it inspected may help if someone makes an open air fire call on you. I've had one such call since my build, and the firemen that showed up seemed more interested in where to get one and how they work, after I told them their engineers inspected it.

                    So, this is what I've learned over the past year's build regarding WFO and the city's regulations:
                    • as far as city Planning and Zoning are concerned, a WFO is the same as a shed; it's an accessory structure. So the same bylaws apply: no permit needed if less than 10 sqft, and it needs to be located at least 2 ft from a property line and 4 ft from the foundation of your house.
                    • A properly built WFO is not considered an open air fire because it is a contained, airtight unit and has a sealed steel door
                    • As the FB models are UL certified as a cooking appliance, it is considered a BBQ and not subject to open air burning bylaw in Ottawa
                    • You will need a spark arrester on your chimney
                    So, just make sure you're building your oven properly, be proactive and contact Ottawa Fire ahead of time and ask if they want to see plans or inspect, and you should be good. I should also note that just last year, the city gave a $40000 grant to a Bayshore community group to build and operate a public wood fired oven in a park, so the city is definitely not dead set against them. Here's the Facebook page for the community oven: