Mayor Tory says the city will build new steps down a heavily-used embankment at an Etobicoke park after a resident got frustrated with staff’s insistence that the job would cost up to $150,000 and decided to tackle it himself.

On Friday morning, city crews were at Etobicoke’s Tom Riley Park to remove an eight-step wooden staircase that retired mechanic Adi Astl built for $550 back on June 22 with the help of a homeless person.

A bylaw enforcement officer had contacted Astl earlier this week to inform him that his decision to build the steps violated section 608 of the Toronto Municipal Code but on Friday morning, Tory thanked 73-year-old Astl for “taking a stand” and promised that work on new steps would start today and be done “in a matter of days.”

“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 have heard loud and clear,” Tory said in a statement. “The city always needs to be looking for simple, cost-effective solutions to problems no matter how big or small they are.”

Astl had previously reached out to his councillor, Justin Di Ciano, to request that a small staircase be built down a steep embankment that residents used as a shortcut to access a community garden and a nearby soccer field.

Di Ciano in turn reached out to staff with the parks and recreation department and was informed that such a job would carry a price tag of $65,000 and $150,000and was not something that the city’s budget would allow for at this time.

That’s when Astl took matters into his own hands, purchasing a load of lumber for the job and enlisting the help of a homeless man who had offered to help in exchange for breakfast and some cash.

Speaking with CP24 on Friday, Astl said that he is pleased his do it yourself project has had the impact it has, even if the stairs he built are no longer.

“The government has to change a little bit how they do things. Every penny saved, like we do, the government should do the same thing,” he said.

Astl told CP24 that Tory contacted him personally on Thursday night to explain the reasons for the removal of the steps and gave him his word that the new steps will done to “the city’s specs” and will be built immediately.

Astl called the resolution a “victory” and an example of common sense prevailing.

For his part, Tory called the initial $65,000 to $150,000 estimate “outrageous” and “out of whack with reality.”

He said that the city will build “safe and durable” steps at a “reasonable cost” and will look to learn from this incident.

“People can’t go around and build these things wherever they want but we also can’t have ridiculous estimates like this becoming a part of the process,” he said. “Going forward I am going to look at how to make sure these sort of outrageous estimates don’t continue to form part of the pattern here.”

New stairs will cost $10,000

The stairs should be completed within the next seven to 10 days and should cost the city about $10,000, according to Coun. Justin Di Ciano.

Di Ciano said that is a “very fair price to install a set of real stairs that will last 20 to 30 years.”

The councillor, however, said that residents shouldn’t make a habit of taking matters into their own hands just because it worked out in this case.

“There is not going to be any charges filed here but I can tell you that if someone did trip and fall on steps that didn’t pass code there would have been serious consequences for the city,” he said. “Everything worked out for the good but I would highly recommend that if you have an issue with city hall that you go to your local councillor and talk to them and they will get some help for you. Doing it on your own is not recommended and if something does happen, you can be charged.”