When a retired mechanic heard that his city was looking to spend as much as $150,000 to build a staircase at his community park, he took matters into his own hands and built his own. The city did not appreciate it.
Adi Astl told CTV News that he and his neighbors chipped in $550 to build their own eight-step staircase after several people fell down the slope leading to the park, but the city might tear down the steps, as they do not meet regulations.
Astl, along with a homeless man he hired to help, completed construction in just a few hours.
Many community members in the Toronto, Canada, neighborhood have thanked him for it.
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"I've seen so many people fall over that rocky path that was there to begin with," said Gail Rutherford, Astl's wife. "It's a huge improvement over what was there."
Astl's gardening group was particularly appreciative, as one member fell down the path and broke her wrist one year earlier.
"I think the stairs are very convenient to come down because here a lot of aging people … they need those steps," resident Elna Goulak told Global News.
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Others said they didn't care about city codes for staircases.
"We have far too much bureaucracy," said Dana Beamon, who lives in the area, according to CTV News. "We don't have enough self-initiative in our city, so I'm impressed."
Though Astl hasn't been cited for the project, the stairs have been taped off while city authorities debate how they should move forward.
"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."
He said he might add a "use at your own risk" type of warning sign for the DIY staircase, though city inspectors said that it is unsafe due to it having no foundation, an uneven incline and poor railing.
"I thought they were talking about an escalator," upon initially hearing the city's project estimate, Astl said.
Councilor Justin Di Ciano, who represents Astl's area, said that he asked city staffers to leave the stairs up until they can upgrade them to fit regulation. In the meantime, he said that they are better than nothing.
"I think we all need to have a bit of common sense here," he added.
Mayor John Tory said that while the estimate was high, that doesn't mean city bylaws don't apply and pointed out that there is another accessible path to the park, for those worried about falling.
"I think everyone will understand that [a city-approved staircase] will be more than $550," he added. "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."