In One Story, Everything You Need to Know about Government, by Dan Mitchell. The story:
A Toronto man who spent $550 building a set of stairs in his community park says he has no regrets, despite the city’s insistence that he should have waited for a $65,000 city project to handle the problem. …
Retired mechanic Adi Astl says he took it upon himself to build the stairs after several neighbours fell down the steep path to a community garden in Tom Riley Park, in Etobicoke, Ont.
Astl says his neighbours chipped in on the project, which only ended up costing $550 – a far cry from the $65,000-$150,000 price tag the city had estimated for the job. …
Astl says he hired a homeless person to help him and built the eight steps in a matter of hours. …Astl says members of his gardening group have been thanking him for taking care of the project, especially after one of them broke her wrist falling down the slope last year.
Dan Mitchell comments:
The part that grabbed my attention was the $550 cost of private action compared to $65,000 for government. …. God only knows how long it would have taken the bureaucracy to complete this task. So this is a story of inexpensive private action vs. costly government inaction.
But there’s another part of this story that also caught my eye. The bureaucracy is responding with spite.
The spiteful city in a power play:
The city is now threatening to tear down the stairs because they were not built to regulation standards. …City bylaw officers have taped off the stairs while officials make a decision on what to do with it. …Mayor John Tory…says that still doesn’t justify allowing private citizens to bypass city bylaws to build public structures themselves. …
“We just can’t have people decide to go out to Home Depot and build a staircase in a park because that’s what they would like to have.”
Astl has not been charged with any sort of violation.