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Toronto inches closer to implementing transit taxes

City staff have released the short list of transit taxes they say Toronto city council should consider in order to fund the next phase of transit projects, including the Downtown Relief Line. In a report to be discussed at next week's executive committee meeting, city manager Joe Pennachetti and the chief financial officer Rob Rossini recommend:

  • 7.5 - 15% development charge hike
  • 5-10% per litre fuel tax
  • 50¢ - $1 per space parking levy
  • 0.5 - 1% sales tax

All of which must be entirely dedicated to funding transport projects - nothing else.

Once the first round of projects, including the Eglinton Crosstown LRT, are complete, staff say the city should adopt highway tolls, high-occupancy toll lanes, and a vehicle registration tax. It's thought once the first batch of new infrastructure is available the secondary charges will be more appropriate.

"While fuel tax, sales tax, commercial parking levy and development charges can be implemented in the near term, the revenue options which more directly impact vehicle users should be delayed until phase one investments are substantially completed, providing alternative modes of transportation," the report says.

Staff also say council should express support for the Big Move projects provided there is a "clear commitment" from Metrolinx and the province to build new subways and light rail lines in order to reduce congestion and boost transit capacity.

Rob Ford has indicated he is against any new taxes, even making a gagging noise the last time new ways of paying for subways were brought up during a media scrum. It's believed approving these new charges would deliver more than the $2 billion needed each year.

"I'm not supporting any of those revenue tools. People can't afford these taxes. That's all it is is tax, tax, tax," he said during today's casino discussions.

Staff rejected a TTC fare increase, congestion charge, payroll tax, and land transfer tax. Income, utility, and property taxes were also not part of the package of recommendations.

What do you think - is a two-step approach the best way to get the most transit for every dollar? Do you support these taxes?

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Image: ReDeViL72/blogTO Flickr pool.


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