Bureaucracy is often the bane of the citizenry, especially as it pertains to pet projects in non-essential infrastructure at the city level.
Adi Astl was a bewildered man. A community garden in his home town of Toronto, Canada had been built with one major, yet simple flaw: The path leading to the garden itself was steep and a bit treacherous. Concerned residents, including Astl, advocated for the city to build a set of stairs leading down to the garden after several members of the surrounding community had slipped and fallen attempting to access the public space. The city, recognizing that this was truly a problem worth solving, began to hunt for a contractor willing to tackle the simple set of 8 steps. When all of the bids for work were entered, Astl and the rest of the neighborhood were astounded.
The city received bids for the project ranging from $65,000 to $150,000. Astl was incensed.
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That’s when the resident took matters into his own hands.
“A Toronto man who spent $550 building a set of stairs in his community park says he has no regrets, despite the city’s insistence that he should have waited for a $65,000 city project to handle the problem. The city is now threatening to tear down the stairs because they were not built to regulation standards.
“Retired mechanic Adi Astl says he took it upon himself to build the stairs after several neighbours fell down the steep path to a community garden in Tom Riley Park, in Etobicoke, Ont. Astl says his neighbours chipped in on the project, which only ended up costing $550 – a far cry from the $65,000-$150,000 price tag the city had estimated for the job.
“Toronto bylaw officials have taped off these privately-built stairs in Tom Riley Park, in Etobicoke, Ont.
“’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.’”
The city, of course, did not agree with Astl’s unsanctioned construction.
As of now, the steps built by Astl with help from the community are cordoned off at the behest of the local government, due to the fact that they were installed by citizens and not a bidding contractor. Astl, thankfully, has not been charged with any crime at the time of this writing.