Original Post November 25, 2016. See update as of December 2, 2016 at end of posting
The City of Toronto is facing a major budget shortfall for 2017 – both for operating costs and capital costs. The problem is not that spending is too high, but that revenues are too low. Following extensive research, City staff has identified a number of revenue options, ranging from higher residential property taxes, increased land transfer taxes, hotel tax, reinstitute vehicle registration tax and implement expressway tolling. These will be subject to additional analysis and public consultation.
However, in a bold and remarkable speech at the Toronto Region Board of Trade on November 24 (with TAO in the audience), Toronto Mayor Tory publically stated his preference for tolls on the Gardiner and Don Valley Expressways, raising about $200M/yr to be dedicated for transit capital expansion. The statement caused a Canada-wide media sensation, with plenty of comments pro/con.
TAO has long supported new revenue tools for transit, especially ones like road pricing that raise revenue and incent drivers to switch to more sustainable transportation modes. We will continue to advocate for and support efforts to introduce such tools in Toronto and other Ontario municipalities.
Update as per December 2, 2016
On December 1, Toronto Executive Committee considered various staff reports outlining numerous new revenue sources to be considered for the City’s 2017 operating and capital budgets. These included road pricing, as well as the other tools cited in the original post, above. Transport Action Ontario made a formal deputation with the following key points: urging City to talk to other GTHA municipalities, pushing the province for leadership, supporting road tolls, recommending other big-ticket revenue sources and encouraging transparency and accountability of the Fund.
Our deputation can be viewed here: tao-deputationtotoronto2016-12-01
Executive Committee did support road tolls as well as a limited suite of other tools. The recommendations now go to Budget Committee and City Council. Stay tuned!