We can all relate to this-as reported by CTV News several neighbours had fallen down a steep dirt path to a community garden located in Tom Riley Park in Etobicoke, Ontario. After the municipality was alerted, the city took a look at the small slope and declared that yes indeed, a little stairway was needed. The city estimated the cost of the proposed stairs at 65,000 to 150,000 dollars.
A retired mechanic named Adi Astl thought he could do this cheaper and faster. Amassing $550 from his neighbours, he built a set of stairs down the slope of the community park. But these stairs, while practical, are not built to municipal standards and “Toronto bylaw officials have taped off these privately-built stairs”.
“I thought they were talking about an escalator,” Astl told CTV News Channel on Wednesday. Astl says he hired a homeless person to help him and built the eight steps in a matter of hours. Astl’s wife, Gail Rutherford, says the stairs have already been a big help to people who routinely take that route through the park. “I’ve seen so many people fall over that rocky path that was there to begin with,” she said. “It’s a huge improvement over what was there.”
Astl says members of his gardening group have been thanking him for taking care of the project, especially after one of them broke her wrist falling down the slope last year. “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.”
Mayor of Toronto John Tory did acknowledge that the city’s estimate for the stairs was “completely out of whack with reality.” Meanwhile Mr Astl’s stair have been cordoned off and he’s been admonished that private citizens can’t build public structures. Meanwhile in the common sense department, area resident Dana Beamon noted she’s pretty pleased with Mr Astl’s stairs. “We have far too much bureaucracy,” she said. “We don’t have enough self-initiative in our city, so I’m impressed.”