US & Canada

Toronto rebukes handyman whose steps save taxpayers $50,000

Adi Astl on the stairs he built in a Toronto park Image copyright CTV News

A Canadian pensioner built a set of stairs at his local park for just C$550 when the city estimated it would cost at least C$65,000 ($51,500, £40,000).

But instead of a thank you, Toronto has blocked off access to the steps and asked Adi Astl, 73, to take them down.

Before the stairs were installed, Mr Astl said a few people had fallen down the steep muddy embankment to the park.

Mr Astl said he took matters into his own hands after his local councillor told him about the city's price tag.

"To me, the safety of people is more important than money," Mr Astl told CTV News. "So if the city is not willing to do it, I have to do it myself."

He said the whole project took him and his neighbours about 14 hours.

Mr Astl's councillor, Justin Di Ciano, said the official estimate, which the city said could go from $65,000 to $150,000, was outlandish.

"With $150,000 you can put up half a house," Mr Di Ciano told GlobalNews.

Image copyright Courtesy Gail Rutherford
Image caption The muddy embankment before the stairs were built

Toronto Mayor John Tory agreed the price estimate was overblown, but said it just won't do for private citizens to "go out to Home Depot and build a staircase in a park because that is what they would like to have".

City staff say they are re-assessing the estimate, which was based on a staircase built at another park.

Resident Dana Beamon told CTV News she is thankful for Mr Astl's staircase.

"We have far too much bureaucracy," she said.

"We do not have enough self-initiative in our city, so I am impressed."

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