Man defies city estimates, builds stairs for a fraction of the amount

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A slippery slope at a park in Toronto prompted residents to request a set of stairs. When they were told the undertaking would cost an estimated $65,00-$150,00, one ambitious man set out to prove them wrong.

After raising $550, retired mechanic Adi Astl built his own set of stairs leading to a community garden in Tom Riley Park, in Etobicoke, Ontario. With the help of a homeless man he’d hired, the stairs were erected in just 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.”

Residents say the new stairs work perfectly.

The city disagrees. Officials say that an adequate set of stairs still needs to be erected. According to the city, they now need to demolish the stairs Astl built, and they blocked access to them after city inspectors said the stairs were unsafe. (Scroll down for more.)

Resident Dana Beamon said the stairs are fine, whether they meet city standards or not. “We have far too much bureaucracy,” Beamon said. “We don’t have enough self-initiative in our city.”

After hearing of Astl’s construction project, Mayor John Tory acknowledged that the high estimates from the city were “completely out of whack with reality.” He says the area has an accessible path, however, and that the stairs are just a shortcut.

City council member Justin Di Ciano said that while Astl’s stairs don’t meet city standards, the do-it-your-self-er has made a valid point. He says Astl’s stairs show what is possible, and he admits that a private contractor could complete the project correctly for less than the city’s original estimate.

“I think we all need to have a bit of common sense here,” Di Ciano said.

Still, Tory wants to make it clear that Astl’s actions should not be repeated.

“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 said.

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