Astl’s $550 steps at the south end of Tom Riley park were taken away by four Parks, Forestry and Recreation (PFR) workers Friday morning with a promise from Mayor John Tory that new, safer concrete steps will be built by the end of next week for $10,000 max.
(Note that it took four city workers to take apart and cart away the same stairs and risers put together by the 73-year-old Astl and a homeless man who helped him.)
The $10,000 of course compares to the $65,000 to $150,000 estimate first given for the same steps — revealed exclusively in the Toronto Sun this past Wednesday — by officials in the bloated Parks and Rec department.
As we reported in the story — appropriately named Stepgate — Astl, worried about the safety of seniors trying to access the Horizons Community Garden in the park from Bloor St., approached his Councillor Justin DiCiano about putting in steps.
When he learned from DiCiano’s office that the estimated cost of the eight steps was between $65,000 and $150,000 — depending on the materials used — Astl built his own steps for $550 in 12 hours on June 22.
Mayor John Tory told me Friday our story has led not only to the change — that city officials (with considerable prodding I’ll bet) were able to get the cost down to $10,000 — but will cause him to look closer at how the smaller projects are estimated as he is doing with larger construction projects.
“I think it tells me when (city) people are asked (to estimate costs) they don’t take enough time to go through with a sharp pencil from the beginning and ask what is the least amount of money this can be done safely,” he said.