The City of Duncan wants to hear from the public before deciding on the future of the cob oven in Centennial Park. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

The City of Duncan wants to hear from the public before deciding on the future of the cob oven in Centennial Park. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

City of Duncan wants to hear from public on cob oven

Centennial Park facility not used in a year

The City of Duncan wants to know how much interest there is in the community to fix and maintain the cob oven in Centennial Park before it considers putting any money and effort into it.

Council decided at a recent meeting to initiate a Request for Expressions of Interest for a group or individual to assist with the future operation and maintenance of the cob oven, which has been in place in Centennial Park since 2012.

As opposed to a request for proposals, a RFEOI simply solicits prospective applicants rather than developing a more definitive set of terms and conditions, scope of work or service at such an early stage.

Coun. Carol Newington said she would love to see the cob oven in use again, but she finds it isn’t user friendly.

“I wonder just how much community interest there is in it,” she said.

“I wouldn’t want to spend any money on it if it won’t be used. I’m looking forward to see what the response to the RFEOI will be.”

The cob oven is a “rocket stove”, a highly adaptable device that readily converts wood scraps, branches, and other plant material into immediately available heat for cooking, heating, and drying.

In 2012, Cowichan Community Kitchens, who work under the umbrella of Hiiye’yu Lelum, House of Friendship, applied for and received a grant-in-aid from the city for $2,500 for seed money to hire a project coordinator for the creation of the outdoor oven.

RELATED STORY: FUNDING FIGHT THREATENS HOUSE OF FRIENDSHIP

Since then, the city has invested another $7,500 towards the construction of the cob oven and the kitchen and garden program around it, and other funding was provided by the BC Arts Council, for an estimated amount of $22,500.

In 2013, an agreement was signed between Cowichan Community Kitchens and the city for the operation and maintenance of the facility, and citizens were allowed to apply for use of the cob oven for public or group lunch gatherings.

A staff report said the House of Friendship has fixed and maintained the cob oven to the best of their abilities while in operation, but, in the past year the cob oven has not been used, and ongoing vandalism and drug paraphernalia have been mitigating factors in a re-evaluation of the commitment to the oven taken by the House of Friendship, resulting in a decision to recuse themselves from the agreement.

RELATED STORY: GRAFFITI TROUBLE? DUNCAN WILL GIVE YOU THE BRUSH AND THE PAINT TO DO IT

However, since then, the House of Friendship has advised that they were successful with a Peninsula Co-Op community grant to fix and maintain the oven for $5,000, and have offered the grant to the city for that purpose.

“City staff believe the cob oven is a great community asset and request that the city manage its maintenance and use,” the report said.

“The cob oven has now been assessed and requires maintenance to be operational for public use. As well, the cob oven should be secured in some way to prevent future vandalism.”

Staff had recommended that council invest an additional $10,000 to restore the oven on top of the $5,000 from the Peninsula Co-Op, but many council members were reluctant to commit more money until community interest in operating the oven is assessed.

But Coun. Garry Bruce said he isn’t even interested in having the staff spend the time to put out a RFEOI for the oven.

“It’s beyond our pale,” he said.

“Once we have all the sewers running, our water is good and there are no more potholes on our road, then we can worry about this. If we want to see if there are any expressions of interest from the community, it will still take staff’s time to do that, and I don’t want to spend another dime on it.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Recreation

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The organizers of the annual 39 days of July festival hope to return to live shows in Charles Hoey Park this year, like in this photo taken in 2019, but audiences at the show may be limited to 50 people due to health protocols. (File photo)
39 Days of July hoping for outdoor events in Duncan this summer

Annual music festival will run from June 25 to Aug. 2 this year

Cowichan Valley WildSafeBC coordinator Amanda Crowston teaches a Grade 5/6 class at Ecole Cobble Hill last fall. (Submitted)
The bears are back in town and so is WildSafeBC

The bears are back in town so keep an eye out, reminds… Continue reading

Oak Bay resident Hugh Thompson died Friday, May 7. (GoFundMe photo)
Oak Bay dad dies mountain biking near Shawnigan Lake

Community rallies around family with online fundraiser

The Regional District of Nanaimo has its sights set on busing to the Cowichan Valley in time for March 2022. (News Bulletin file)
Bus link between Nanaimo and the Cowichan Valley expected by next March

Unallocated transit hours already in Regional District of Nanaimo budget

North Cowichan has heated exchange over timelines of its official community plan review. (File photo)
North Cowichan’s OCP review divides council

Tight timelines leads to heated debate

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about phase two in B.C.’s COVID-19 immunization plan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
All of B.C. will eventually ease out of COVID-19 restrictions at same time: Henry

People who have received two doses of a vaccine can’t yet return to post-pandemic activities with each other, she says

Winnipeg Jets’ Andrew Copp (9) and Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith (41) watch an incoming shot during second period NHL action in Winnipeg, Monday, April 26, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
‘Very jealous’: Canadian teams can’t take advantage of NHL’s relaxed COVID-19 rules

League eased some tight COVID-19 health and safety protocols over the weekend for fully vaccinated clubs

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Sean Hart, 34, unexpectedly left the Seven Oaks Tertiary Mental Health Facility in Saanich on Nov. 6, 2020 and has now been missing for six months. (Photo courtesy Penny Hart)
Mom still hopeful for Island man who left care six months ago, hasn’t been seen since

Support from community, police keeps search alive for Sean Hart six months after his disappearance

A map of Huu-ay-aht-owned forestry cutblock. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
B.C. First Nations restrict access to territory in wake of forestry standoffs

Huu-ay-aht set up checkpoints after heated and dangerous incidents on southwest Vancouver Island

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a ‘person of interest’ in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
RCMP identify ‘person of interest’ in Kootenay National Park suspicious death

Police are looking for Philip Toner, who was known to a woman found dead near Radium last week

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko (35) makes a save on Winnipeg Jets’ Nate Thompson (11) during second period NHL action in Winnipeg, Monday, May 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
Vancouver Canucks see NHL playoff hopes dashed despite 3-1 win over Winnipeg

Montreal Canadiens earn final North Division post-season spot

Most Read