If you build it, they will come -- and tear it down.
A City of Toronto work crew was seen in Etobicoke’s Tom Riley Park early Friday morning, removing a staircase that had been erected by maverick local handyman Adi Astl. Construction on new stairs, Mayor John Tory promises, will begin immediately.
Astl, a retired mechanic, says he built the stairs for a mere $550 after several neighbours tumbled down a muddy slope leading to the park’s garden. The work, which only took a few hours, came after the community was told to wait for a $65,000 to $150,000 solution from the city.
“If you imagine after heavy rain, or any rain, it becomes like a slippery slope -- there’s no holding on,” Astl told CTV News Channel from the park on Friday. “It might be okay when you’re ten-years-old, but if you get in my age, or a little bit younger, it’s very tough.”
Astl’s stairs, declared unsafe by city bylaw officers, were quickly cordoned off with caution tape.
“I was relieved last night when the mayor phoned me… to thank me to help the city to realize what they are doing is not the right thing,” Astl told CTV News Channel from the park on Friday. “A whole big stone fell from my heart and said, ‘Now we’re going to get somewhere in helping people be safe.’”
In a written statement released Friday, Mayor Tory called the original price tag for the project “absolutely ridiculous and out of whack with reality.”
“I want to thank Mr. Astl for taking a stand on this issue,” Tory added. “His homemade steps have sent a message that I know City Staff have heard loud and clear.”
According to Tory, construction of new stairs will begin Friday and be completed within days.
“The new stairs will be safe, durable and reasonably priced,” Tory wrote.
The City estimates that the new stairs will cost $10,000. In an interview with CTV News Channel from Toronto City Hall, Tory vowed to make sure that cost estimates are more reasonable in the future.
“We’re also going to take a look at how this process works today so that we can make sure that these kinds of crazy estimates don’t become just a continuous part of how things happen because they shouldn’t,” he said.
As for Etobicoke’s stair master, Astl holds no grudges after seeing his handiwork demolished.
“If you come, we have steps like Taj Mahal! Can you imagine that?” Astl said with a broad grin. “The story is so big, I guess they had to rectify it quickly… Which is amazing. Thank you, Mayor!”
With files from CTV Toronto