The city of Toronto estimated that it would cost $65,000 to build stairs for a local park, but one resident took it upon himself to build the stairs—and only spent $550.
The city has now threatened to tear down the stairs, CTV News reports.
Retired mechanic Adi Astl decided to build stairs that lead to a community garden in Tom Riley Park, in Etobicoke, Ontario after several neighbors fell and hurt themselves trying to walk on the steep path. Some of Astl’s neighbors chipped in for the cost of the project, which ended up being $550.
The city, meanwhile, had estimated that it would cost $65,000 to $150,000 to install the stairs in the park.
The exorbitant cost of the city’s estimate had Astl believe that the city was talking about building an escalator.
“I thought they were talking about an escalator,” Astl told CTV News Channel on Wednesday.
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Astl hired a homeless person to help him build eight stairs in a few hours.
“To me, the safety of people is more important than money,” Astl said. “So if the city is not willing to do it, I have to do it myself.”
People in the community are happy with the new stairs.
“I’ve seen so many people fall over that rocky path that was there to begin with,” Astl’s wife, Gail Rutherford, said. “It’s a huge improvement over what was there.”
One woman from Astl’s community gardening group broke her wrist when she fell trying to walk the steep path. Now, Astl says the members of the community have been thanking him for his work.
Not everyone is happy about the new addition, however. City officials have taped off the stairs, citing that they are not built to regulation standards. City inspectors said the stairs are unsafe because there is no foundation, the incline is too steep, and the railing is not safe.
One resident says she is happy with the stairs, regardless of whether they meet city standards.
“We have far too much bureaucracy,” Dana Beamon said. “We don’t have enough self-initiative in our city, so I’m impressed.”
Mayor John Tory does not approve of private citizens taking initiative and building structures on city property if they bypass city laws. But he acknowledged that the high estimates from the city are “completely out of whack with reality.”
“I think everyone will understand that it will be more than $550,” Tory said. “We just can’t have people decide to go out to Home Depot and build a staircase in a park because that’s what they would like to have.”
Tory also pointed out that the park has an accessible path and that the stairs are just a shortcut to the park.
Coun. Justin Di Ciano, who represents Astl’s area, has told city officials to leave the stairs for now until they can decide on a city-approved upgrade that will not cost too much.
“I think we all need to have a bit of common sense here,” Di Ciano said.