A neighborhood in west Toronto was thrilled when they found out they would be getting a community garden. The beautiful garden would be located in Tom Riley Park, and it was a favorite spot for the entire area, particularly for the seniors that live nearby.
There was one problem — there was no staircase leading down to the garden, making it challenging and dangerous for seniors to reach it.
“People were falling down. One person broke their hands. So it is not a good situation for anybody,” a local senior named Adi Astl told a local news station.
Adi ended up reaching out to a city council member to ask if a staircase could be installed. The response he received back was shocking to him.
The council member informed him that it would cost between $65,000 and $150,000 to construct a set of stairs.
Adi was once a mechanic and is good with his hands; he decided to build a set of stairs himself. Spending only $550 and 14 hours of his time, Adi had installed a set of stairs — the community was thrilled.
Sadly, soon after the stairs were built, the city came down with bad news — the stairs were not built to code and needed to come down. The once content neighborhood was once again up in arms.
“At the end of the day, the city has a liability issue. We have to make sure that assets in our public spaces are to code and meets certain safety standards. The stairs that Adi built were well-intentioned. They worked well. They would have worked well for the short-term. They wouldn’t have worked for the long-term.”
After Adi’s hand-constructed stairs had been torn down, he received a call from the mayor.
John Tory, the mayor of Toronto, ended up reaching out to Adi regarding his efforts to keep his community safe. He thanked him for the gesture and informed him that they were able to get an estimate for a set of city-coded stairs for a much more reasonable price of $10,000.
Even though his initial staircase was torn down, Adi was happy that the mayor was making such an effort.
“Everything is a negotiation in life, so long as you reach the meaning and the end. The meaning and the end was to have steps for people to go down safely. Who installs it, doesn’t matter anymore. We’ve proved our point.”
The mayor issued a statement expressing his disappointment in the way the initial stair proposal was handled.
“I want to thank Mr. Astl for taking a stand on this issue. His homemade steps have sent a message that I know city staff has heard loud and clear. The city always needs to be looking for simple, cost-effective solutions to problems no matter how big or small they are … I’m not happy that these kinds of outrageous project cost estimates are even possible. I’ll be working to identify what changes we can put in place to make sure this doesn’t continue to happen.”
The community is looking forward to their new, permanent staircase and it should be built soon — they’re also hailing Adi as a local hero.
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