Etobicoke park's stair drama ends with city agreeing to put in its own steps
Resident built his own staircase without city's permission to help people enter park from parking lot
Mayor John Tory says the city will build a new staircase in Etobicoke's Tom Riley Park to replace the stairs built by a citizen who wanted to help people safely enter the park from the parking lot.
Adi Astl, 73, built the makeshift wooden stairs without the city's permission after being told the city would have to spend upwards of $65,000 to put stairs in the same place.
On Friday, Tory blasted that estimate as "outrageous" and "crazy," saying that anyone who looked at it should have known that it didn't bear "any resemblance to reality."
Tory also praised Astl for putting the issue on his radar.
"He brought this to our attention and so we were able to justify building the stairs," Tory said.
"We know we're going to build them safely and durably and at a reasonable cost because he shone a light on this and because that's what we should be doing."
Previously, people entering the park would hold on to a rope and tread carefully to get down the slope next to the parking lot. There is another access point to the park, but it's currently fenced off for repair work.
Astl's staircase has since been taken down, with Tory promising in a statement that the new stairs will be completed "within a matter of days."
The uproar over the estimates has attracted international attention, with the BBC running the headline "Toronto rebukes handyman whose steps save taxpayers $50,000," and CNN declaring: "City says steps will cost $65,000-$150,000; man builds them for $550."
Tory says he'll be looking for ways to ensure city staff "sharpen their pencils" before providing estimates in the future, noting there are thousands of similar projects to the Tom Riley stairs.