City says steps will cost at least $65,000; man builds them for $550

Posted at 8:04 PM, Jul 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-20 20:04:43-04

A retiree in Toronto was unhappy with the length of time the city was taking to build a flight of stairs on a precarious slope.

And so he did it himself — at a fraction of the cost.

Adi Astl, with the help of a homeless man he hired, built eight steps for $550, more than 100 times cheaper than the $65,000-$150,000 the city had estimated for the job.

Astl told CNN affiliate CTV News that members of his gardening group thanked him for building the stairs. One of them had broken a wrist falling down the slope that leads to their community garden.

But not everyone is happy about Astl’s seemingly good deed.

While the flight of stairs has been a welcome addition for the community in Tom Riley Park, the city is now threatening to tear down the stairway because it was not built according to the city’s regulations.

The city insisted that Astl should not have bypassed the legal steps and should have waited for city officials to handle the problem. Mayor John Tory acknowledged the absurdity of the city’s estimates but said it does not condone private citizens bypassing city bylaws to build public structures themselves.

“We just can’t have people deciding to go out to Home Depot and build a staircase in a park because that’s what they would like to have,” Tory told CTV.

Astl, however, thought that his safety — and that of his fellow residents — was a bigger priority. “To me, the safety of people is more important than money, “Astl said. “If the city is not willing to do it, I have to do it myself.”