Toronto says park stairs would cost $65k to build, man makes them for $550

Originally published at:


This is the foundation of why governments are broke. Stupid people rigidly adhering to stupid “bylaws” because some vulture attorney would sue if the stairs didn’t meet code. Astounding stupidity!


Looks like your basic run of the mill Eagle Scout project


Hmm. I could have built steps that ugly for $200.


It’s too bad cities don’t have a system in place for just such an occasion. They could offer citizens parameters and inspections the same way they do if you want to build something on your property. If a community wants to take on a small project like a stairway, give them the information, and let them at it.


For some assholes people, things either have to be perfect or not exist at all. Better is never allowed.

Near here a disabled woman was unable to get in or out of her home because of a ditch in front of her door. Some kind folks built a perfectly working ramp, but someone narced and they were forced to take it out because it wasn’t perfectly up to code.


The cynical part of me thinks that kickbacks and corruption play a role.


You misspelled ‘realistic’ as ‘cynical’, fyi.


In Canadian dollars?

ETA: Looks like the exchange rate isn’t that far off.

There’s a pretty wide gap between “almost perfectly up to code” and what that man built. Those stairs don’t look safe at all.


“The city says the stairs will have to be replaced with stairs that meet regulations.”

“I’ve seen so many people fall over that rocky path that was there to begin with,” she said. “It’s a huge improvement over what was there.”

And therein lies the good/bad dichotomy of government. Those code laws are to keep people safe, yet this three-quarters assed job may not be 100% safe, but its say 90% safer than it was? Which is a better solution? None, or a partial one?

And $65K seems fucking outrageous, but I figured that would include 1) labor done by an approved union and 2) its government work, so its possible they didn’t even get competing bids. Or they did, and all of them beefed up the estimate.

I would think for that money it would be 4x as wide, concrete, and have a small elevator for wheelchairs.

“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.”
If people just started taking direct action to solve the problems in their community, it would lead to anarchy! Under our democratic government, we have priorities: solving problems is nice, but not as important as who's in charge and whether the rules are being followed.

To this I say Boo.


I say Boo too!


I guess the counter point is that Jesus painting restoration job.


While $65K is probably a high estimate, $550 is not what I’d expect the city to have to pay to put it in, even if (as this guy did) he limited it strictly to materials.

Here’s a really good response to this from a guy on Reddit:

I don’t agree that the estimate is bullshit, I reckon it’s impossible to tell without all of the info (the article has none).

Maybe there are really tricky ground conditions, necessitating huge excavation,

maybe there are services (water/gas/telecom/elec) nearby that need to be relocated in order for the foundations to be created,

maybe it’s a bastard of a ‘snowball’ job where paving some additional area adds enough stormwater to the system that you’ve now got to trench up 500m of rose gardens to run new pipe

I imagine the new stairs will have a design life around 50yrs+, taking into account the expected traffic, environmental conditions & reasonable mistreatment.

Even if there is nothing tricky, the costs involved in doing stuff properly & proving you have (survey, geotech, engineering etc) are big & for good reason - these people actually know what they are doing & are capable of ensuring the community isn’t exposed to undue risk (sudden stair failure In this case).

I’m an engineer and I have to put up with both sides of this everyday - i.e. stuff costing lots more than seems reasonable at first glance & people bitching about how they could do it for 1/10th the cost if you just let them and their brother-in-law at it.

Good on him for giving a shit, but he seriously had to expect that it’d be $500 down the drain. What shits me is that this sort of stunt just recruits more people to the mindless populist ‘governments are all crooks & retards’ cause & makes it harder for your local representatives to actually do the right thing for the community.

Would you rather read: “council spends $65k on professionally designed and constructed stairs” or “council saves $64.5k by getting unqualified, uninsured man & homeless sidekick to design & build infrastructure”

TL;DR: There are a million reasons why it could be expensive. $65k isn’t much for any public works. Doing stuff properly is often expensive. The community generally expects their infrastructure to be done properly.


The $550 stairs fail to provide one lousy dime for the town councils’ kids college fund.


Actually even smaller in scope, if not cost.

On the other hand, my high school had to demolish and replace a newly constructed ramp because it turned out to be too steep for the handicapped kids to use. Code has its place.