Way to handcuff your city, assholes.

posted on

I don't live in Toronto. I live in Guelph. A good 40 minutes to 2 hours away, depending on the traffic. I do, however, listen to the radio, specifically the CBC. (I have long since lost the ability to put up with the mindless repetition that is commercial radio.) So I am treated to the goings on of Toronto Municipal politics. Someone should tell people in Toronto to do the same thing.

Over the past few days there has been a debate raging about some proposed new taxes implemented under the province's new "City of Toronto Act". The mayor, David Miller, advocated these new taxes as the only way to curb the deficit problem facing the country's most important economic center. (Cities, apparently, are not allowed to operate under a deficit. Even the ones that bring the most money to the higher levels of government, and who are forced to implement the programs the government demands of them.) Two new taxes were proposed: a new land transfer tax of 2% (equal to an existing provincial tax) that you need to pay when selling your home, and a vehicle registration tax that would go towards badly needed infrastructure repairs and the TTC. Of course, as the council met to decide on these taxes, people who didn't want to pay them started to raise their voices a little. In the end, all that was decided was to defer the decision until after the provincial election in the hopes that Toronto's economic woes might become an election issue, eventually leading to the provincial government shelling out some extra cash for the city. The vote was 23-22.

This has been viewed as a defeat for the mayor as deferring the question to October basically means that all the money the city could have made in the mean time is gone, and in the mean time the cuts will have to be made. Just like the mayor always said...but apparently not enough people care what he thinks.

The thing that really gets my goat about this is the arguments made against implementing these new taxes. No one denies that Toronto needs the money. It's well known that the downloading of social programs by the provincial government forces the city to pay for all kinds of things that should really be the province's, or even the country's, responsibility. No, the arguments mostly centered on the public outcry about these new taxes, and the mind-bogglingly optimistic idea that the province will come in at the last minute to bail the city out.

I've got to say, anyone who didn't see a public outcry coming about these taxes is an idiot. That's what the public does...they complain when you raise their taxes. Even if it's for a good reason, like keeping the roads drivable, or keeping their children educated, they're not going to like it one bit. Who can blame them really? We all want to hold on to our hard-earned cash. But does that mean that the people responsible for making the whole thing work should listen? There were complaints that the public wasn't consulted, that there hasn't been enough discussion. Well, as a CBC listener, I've known about these developments for quite some time, and I've heard about several public meetings specifically to address the issue of these new taxes. They also say that the Mayor never campaigned on bringing in new taxes. Well, maybe he didn't say, "If you elect me I will create new taxes!", but he did say that he would use the new "City Of Toronto Act" to build the city and solve its economic problems. Anyone who was paying attention would know that the "City Of Toronto Act" gave the city the power to implement its own taxes. It doesn't take a genius to put two and two together and figure out that using an act that gives you the power to make taxes, mean making taxes. The problem would seem to be that no one really cared until the taxes were knocking on the door, then they raised hell about not being told. PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR CITY YOU FOOLS!

That being said, I have heard the taxes being described by certain elements of the media as "a significant raise in our taxes." But...the land transfer tax only kicks in if you transfer your land. So...if you don't move, you don't pay. (Not to mention the fact that at least you have the money from selling your home to pay the tax at the time.) And if you don't own a vehicle you don't pay to register it. Seems like at worst, it would keep people from buying a car, which would reduce congestion, and pollution, and put more people on the TTC, where they need to be for all kinds of reasons. So...maybe people are paying attention to what they're being told, but they're not looking much deeper than that.

Now this is somehow set to become an election issue...and then the province will be forced to give the city money, right? Yeah...because going to higher levels of government for money has worked so well in the past hasn't it? Remember the "1 cent of the GST NOW" campaign? How many times do you need to be rebuffed from your attempts at handouts from the higher governments before you realize that the only one you can count on is yourself? The Mayor and his supporters seem to get this, what the hell are those other 23 councilors thinking? "This time they have to help us..."? Hell, even if somehow the province does decide to give the city more money, have you seen how long it takes to get anything done up there? By the time the children in Queen's Park are done their bickering half the services in the city are going to be cut and the infrastructure will be in a far worse state.

Already there are various service cuts being announced because this new tax revenue isn't going to come in. Does anyone think it will get better with time? In fact, even the councilors who were against the taxes admit that the shit will hit the fan if the province doesn't come through. They're talking property tax hikes in the double digits, and that's a tax that really will affect everyone (home owners at least), not just those who take the specific action of selling their home.

Basically what I'm seeing is a bunch of councilors bowing to the ignorant, anti-paying-more-taxes public, and putting all their hopes on the stingy grandfather that has let them down so many times before. Personally, if I lived in Toronto, those are not the people I would like to have controlling the city. Personally, I'd like my city to work.


on 2007-07-18 15:56:00

After "PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR CITY YOU FOOLS!" I was sure you were going to announce your megamaniacal plans to overthrow the corrupt regime. Sadly, no such announcement appreared.

You disappoint me Geoff. You really do.

on 2007-07-19 16:29:06

Oh we go: "Massive cuts coming to Toronto transit: commission chair"


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