Communal ovens are perhaps one of earliest forms of shared public infrastructure. You will find archeological examples of them all over the Middle East and North Africa. Bake ovens were as important as the town square or the church to the life of the village. It was the place where people gathered to share news and stories and feel connected. In Medieval Europe, the ovens were the property of feudal lords who would charge serfs a few loaves in exchange for their use. Well-preserved examples dating back to 15th century dot the countrysides of France, England, Belgium and Switzerland. This tradition had mostly died out in western Europe by the 20th century, but it still persists across the Middle East.
Behind the Italian Cultural Centre on Grandview Highway is the first public bake oven in Vancouver. Through Il Centro, you can book the oven to make pizza or bake artisanal breads for 4 hours at a time for a base charge of $100.
Though a great public amenity that’s worth taking delicious advantage of, this city is seriously lagging behind Toronto, which has thirteen(!) public bake ovens (and perhaps more) that range from simple DIY mud-dome pizza ovens to more elaborate structures with attached full outdoor kitchens. Some of them even have portable public tandoors like this one in Regent Park.
I could see these things being built at our local community centres. Trout Lake is a prime candidate. The obvious downside is the pollution from the smoke that these things emit when you start the fire. I hear that the Metro is restricting this kind of activity. (Even Southern BBQ joints are being forced to limit the use of their smokers).
Still, one can dream! If you are interested in lobbying the city for a communal brick oven, here is a good link from Minnesota on how to plan and build them. Good luck, and keep us posted on how it goes!