Published here March 2018


Musings Index

Project: A Simple Stairway to, Well, More Trouble
A Case Study of an Actual Simple Project - Part 2

Remember that set of garden steps we told you about last September? The ones in the corner of Tom Riley Park where the City of Toronto quoted a price of $65,000 to build a new set of stairs? And a senior citizen[1], along with the help of a homeless man, built the stairs one day for the small price of $550?

Well, apparently that was not the end of the story.

Photo Credit: Shannon McKarney
Figure 1: The homemade flight of stairs

According to news reporter Josh Duncan[2]: "Never has a small set of stairs provided so much entertainment." As Josh reports:

"City of Toronto dismantles homemade stairs at city park,
Mayor calls initial $65K estimate 'ridiculous'.

On Friday, Toronto Mayor John Tory made a statement about the stairs:

'The original cost estimate for the City of Toronto to build stairs in Tom Riley Park was absolutely ridiculous and out of whack with reality, 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.

'Here is my statement on the Tom Riley Park stairs:

Figure 2: The Mayor's letter
Figure 2: The Mayor's letter

The Mayor went on to say:

"The City needs to be looking for simple, cost-effective solutions to problems big and small."

Josh Duncan picked up the story:

"On Friday, crews dismantled Astl's stairs, which aren't built well enough to handle years of public use. According to Tory:

'A new set of stairs will be built within a matter of days. Anything the City builds has to be absolutely safe and has to be able to stand the test of time and these new stairs will do just that,' said Tory. 'The new stairs will be safe, durable and reasonably priced.' "


"There were plenty of issues with the stairs, including a lack of suitable foundation."

See Figure 3.

Figure 3: Example of foundation deficiency
Photo Credit: Shannon McKarney
Figure 3: Example of foundation deficiency

"[Tory] also added that he's unhappy these outrageous project cost estimates are even possible and will be working to identify what changes can happen to make sure this doesn't continue."

As for Astl, a local radio station, Newstalk 1010, will be reimbursing him the $550 that he spent on building the initial set of stairs.

Editor's Note: As a project manager getting things done, you might want to ask yourself: Is this the face of bureaucracy, or the cost of democracy?

1. Senior Citizen Adi Astl
2. Josh Duncan, news report in KelownaNow stuff that matters Around the Web, posted July 21, 2017
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