The Americas

Canadian man builds park stairs for $550 – even though city said project would cost $65G

A Canadian man built steps for his community park, but the City of Toronto is angry that he went ahead and did so even though city officials had estimated the project would cost $65,000 to complete.

Adi Astl, of Toronto, is a retired mechanic who decided to build the stairs at Tom Riley Park, in Etobicoke, Ontario, after several people fell down the poorly constructed pathway that led to a garden, according to CTV News.

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Astl paid $550 in materials and also received private donations. He hired a homeless person and together the two built the eight steps.

Toronto officials had estimated the construction of the stairs would cost from $65,000 to $150,000.

“I thought they were talking about an escalator,” Astl said.

Gail Rutherford, Astl’s wife, said the new stairs her husband built were already contributing to the city’s safety.

“I’ve seen so many people fall over that rocky path that was there to begin with,” Rutherford said. “It’s a huge improvement over what was there.”

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Astl said he decided to take matters into his own hands for the safety of the community.

“To me, the safety of the people is more important than money,” Astl said. “So if the city is not willing to do it, I have to do it myself.”

The stairs have been blocked off by tape and they will remain that way until city officials come up with a solution. Astl has not been fined and is not facing criminal charges.

Toronto Mayor John Tory said Wednesday that the estimated cost of the stairs was “completely out of whack with reality.” But, he added, that does not mean private citizens can skirt city laws.

“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 added that the park does have a safe path and said the railing Astl built is reportedly unsafe due to an uneven incline.  

Tory said he asked city officials to decide on a different estimate, one that is a cheaper.

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