By Max Bibeau | CANADA
Libertarians and conservatives praised 73-year-old Toronto resident Adi Astl for building a wooden staircase in Tom Riley Park, for less than 0.008% of the government’s predicted cost.
Astl, a local resident, contacted his local government about building a staircase on a grassy hill leading to a parking lot, after seeing countless seniors and children have difficulty ascending it. The administration responded, stating they would look into the issue, estimating the cost to be between $65,000 and $150,000. Astl, as a former handyman, decided to take matters into his own hands. He bought wood from a nearby store, and went to work, hiring a homeless man as an assistant. He completed the project quickly, at the cost of only $550.
The staircase, however, was quickly inspected by city officials and deemed unsafe. Signs were put up saying not to use it, and yellow tape was put around the staircase. Citizens, however, tore down the tape and signs, and continue to use the stairs.
The city is now looking into working with Astl to build a safer and more effective staircase for a cheaper price. Mayor John Tory stated recently that the estimate was “completely out of whack with reality,” but urged the people to understand that even with the new estimate, “it’s going to be more than $550.”
Other media sources have contacted private contractors and found that the cost of a concrete staircase with metal railings in that area would cost between $5,000 and $10,000. While more than $550, that cost is nowhere near the $150,000 predicted by the local government.
So while Astl’s staircase was clearly not adequate for a city park, especially with the many liability concerns, he did prove to both his city and his country that the public sector’s estimates can often be drastically higher than necessary.