Sometimes a community is forced to stand up and take matters into their own hands,
Last summer, residents in a west Toronto neighborhood were thrilled when the local city council announced a community garden would be installed in their local park. But they were less than thrilled to discover that there was no way to get down there, other than a rustic stone pathway.
The city installed a thin rope alongside the path, which residents could use to help guide themselves down to the lower level. The pathway that made it extremely hard for the elderly to enjoy the park.
After one woman fell and broke her wrist, area resident Adi Astl approached city leaders, asking if money could be allocated to build a real staircase.
Not likely, they replied. They crunched some numbers and looked at the costs associated with a similar project and told him building a staircase would cost at least $65,000!
“I thought they were going to put escalators in here or something,” Adi joked.
This 73-year-old knew whatever time he spent fighting with city hall could be put to better use. So he went the DIY route, buying some lumber and working with the help of another resident to build his own staircase. Total cost? $550. Total time? 14 hours.
Of course, the hand-made model lacked the safety features required by the city and violated city building codes. So his project was torn down and roped off with safety tape.
But the very public DIY project did get the mayor’s attention.
He got in touch with Adi and told him city officials were able to get the price down to just $10,000. (Turns out the previous, outrageously astronomical estimate was based on a staircase built at another park that required much more time and material.)
The mayor thanked Adi for his perseverance and dedication to public safety, adding that:
“[I am] 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.”
Within days, the city had put the finishing touches on a concrete staircase and was happy to report that the project had been completed “on time and on budget.”
“I think the mayor is amazing. This is fantastic,” Adi said when the new stairs were unveiled. but he couldn’t resist adding, “But I still think mine are better looking.”
While going against city codes isn’t recommended, it just goes to show that standing up for what is right can help bring about much needed changes.
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