City of Toronto to tear down $550 park stairs, says man who built them
Jeff Lagerquist, CTVNews.ca
Published Thursday, July 20, 2017 6:14PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, July 21, 2017 12:53PM EDT
The maverick Toronto handyman who erected a $550 set of stairs in a community park says the city is going to tear them down and build a more expensive replacement that meets its construction standards.
Retired mechanic Adi Astl said he took it upon himself to install the steps after several neighbours fell down the steep muddy slope that served as a shortcut to a community garden in Tom Riley Park, in Etobicoke, Ont.
“Many people fell down on their asses. I don’t know how many broke their hands. I’m not here every day, but it is very dangerous,” he told CTV News.
Neighbours are said to have chipped in for the pressure-treated wood and a few screws. Astl said he hired someone who helped him put the eight steps together in a matter of hours, despite the city’s insistence that he wait for a $65,000 city project to handle the problem.
Astl was shocked by the five-figure estimate. “I thought they were going to put in escalators here or something,” he joked.
City bylaw officers blocked his handiwork with yellow caution tape soon after construction was complete, citing safety and accessibility concerns. They said the unstable railing, uneven incline, and lack of foundation were among the flaws with the design.
However, Astl said he spoke with a professional who begs to differ.
“There was a contractor here. He said the stairs were fine. They are safe,” Astl said. “It’s absurd.”
Coun. Justin Di Ciano, who represents Astl’s area, said the spot seems safer with stairs than without them. He has asked his staff to leave them for now while plans are drawn for a more cost-conscious prominent set.
Astl said he has been told that new, safer stairs will be installed soon. He’s not upset that his work will be dismantled, as long as it is promptly replaced.
“What am I going to do? I’m the little guy. They can come in with a crane any time and pull this thing out. Do I have the money for suing them? No,” he said. “The city agreed to put stairs in here, which is important.”
In the meantime, Astl has come up with a thrifty solution to assuage the city’s liability concerns: A sign that reads: “Use at your own risk.”
UPDATE: On Friday morning, Mayor John Tory released a statement that said he is not happy with "these kinds of outrageous project cost estimates" and that he was working to find solutions.
With a report from CTV’s Peter Akman